The Calvin Parlor
I wake up slowly as I hear noises. The nurse is back. It’s the same nurse every time,
who brings me my coffee in the morning, or makes me my supper before bed. It’s been 16 years since I’ve set foot outside of the hospital. They say my cancer is bad, but I don’t feel the pain, and I’m 78 anyway, everyone’s going to have to die someday. This is what I told myself before I met Theo. Theo was the one that reminded me of myself, that I needed to be there for him, to support him.
“I’m very sorry sir, we have tried everything” said my nurse as she walked into my room. She didn’t bring my daily meds today. “What’s going on?!” I yelled as all the chords were pulled out of my skin. “Sir, you only have a month to live.”
I didn’t care what she said. I was already going to die of age anyway. A kid runs by with an ice cream cone in his hand. He looked about 11 years old. He was being chased by a man as angry as a gorilla. I heard him shout as he ran by “Theo! get back to the house!” I didn’t know yet, but I was going to become very close to that kid.
I was still standing outside the main entrance of the Alaska Regional Hospital. It was a beautiful day outside, where the sky was as as blue as my eyes. The sun was a bright orange and it was... cold. Suddenly, I big headache struck me, and I passed out... I think I’m dreaming. No. This is a memory. I see myself as an 11 year old. I’m in 6th grade drawing a picture of what I wanted to do in the future. I didn’t know at the time that it actually wasgoing to be my future. I remembered drawing this in 6th grade! But I forgot what I drew. I had to squint to see what my past self was drawing. It was a picture of an ice cream! It was as brown as the chocolate bars that my mom used to bring back home from work. I woke up in the hospital again and ran outside without paying any attention to the nurses. I knew what to do for the last month of my life! I was going to open an ice cream shop.
As a child, I had always loved to eat ice cream whenever possible, but to bring joy to the kids that loved ice cream as much as I did was just perfect for me. Of course I do not have a car because I have not worked for years and years. I walked 3 miles in the cold to the city bank, and withdrew all my money. I had a total of 52 dollars and 86 cents. This was barely enough for me to start my shop. I rented out a space next to the hospital, just to be safe if I passed out again, I would be close to a hospital. Wait. How had I gotten into the hospital when I passed out before? I asked myself. But I realized that it didn’t matter anyway. I only have 1 month.
It was a small room but I could spend a month in it. It was about the size of my hospital room. It had dark brown walls, as if all the walls had been covered in chocolate ice cream. It was as dirty as an old abandoned cemetery. There was dust everywhere, leaves, and a breeze blew through the cracked windows. I spent a whole day sweeping up all the dust from the place, I bought the ice cream, and got the tables set up. In a week, I had everything set up, and I opened my store. About 3 weeks left.
My first customer is that kid Theo. “I’ll take a vanilla ice cream on a cone.” He said. I got him the ice cream in silence. He sat down at one of the tables. “This is really good.” He told me. “It’s made fresh from the local dairy.” I said. “Thank you.” He said.
A few days after, I started getting more customers. Mostly young kid’s about Theo’s age. They would come in big groups of maybe 6 or 7, Theo sometimes with them and they would eat and talk. “What do you guys think the secret ingredient in the ice cream is?” one said. “When I grow up, I want to open my own ice cream shop!” I watched them in silence. They reminded me of me and my old friends. It brought tears to my eyes. I wish i could go back to my childhood. But a few weeks past, and I was living the last week of my life.
I had 1 week left on my lease, and I have still made no profit, but it didn’t matter anyway. Bringing joy to the children, and at least owning an ice cream shop was enough for me. I started cleaning up the shop, until I had 1 day left. On my last day, I didn’t have any customers. So I stood by the window and watch the snow outside. It’s morning, the sun is shining like as bright as delilah's. It was about 10:00, and Theo walks in, by himself this time. His eyes were red. His usual neat hair was messed up. Had he been crying? “What’s wrong I asked?” “I don’t want to talk about it.” He said. “Well I can’t help unless you tell me what’s wrong.” I said. “Let’s go for a walk.” We walk out the door, and I take one last look at my ice cream shop. This was probably the last time I would see it.
We go to the city park and to talk. “She left...” Theo said. “Who left?” I asked. “My mother.” He said. Suddenly, I was struck by a headache again. My vision blurred. Another memory.My vision comes back. I see myself as a child, no older than Theo,I had the same blue eyes, but I was shorter, I had no wrinkles, and I had much more hair. I was crying, with my dad yelling, and my mom nowhere to be found. Where she had gone? We didn’t know. She had left us nothing.
I wake from the memory. “I’m sorry about your mother” I told him. “It may not seem possible, but you will get over it. Just give it some time.” I told him. “What do you know about this?” He snapped back. “My mom died of cancer, leaving me with just my father. I had a few harsh years after that, but I tried to follow my dream, to open an ice cream shop. Things were not on my side, I got cancer, spent 16 years in the hospital, but look where I am now?” “I was the one who carried you to the hospital when you passed out.” He said. “I understand why you wanted to open an ice cream shop. It’s every child’s life dream. My dream is to open an ice cream shop that will be worldwide. I promise. For you.” Theo said. I smiled, and took my last breath.
Theo ended up carrying the man to the hospital again. He also bought the man’s
ice cream shop in memory of the man, named it after him, “The Calvin Parlor” and kept the store running for decades and decades. More “Calvin Parlors” opened around Alaska, and they soon became known around the world. Theo donated money every year to children in need, and never sold the company. It was passed down generation to generation from Theo’s children and grandchildren.