By Patricia LaPointe
Nick hears her in the kitchen. He worries she’ll not come to him by seven o’clock. He’ll ask her about the time. He never stays in bed after seven. As he waits, he wonders who is that woman in the picture, next to his bed, the first thing he sees every morning, wearing a wedding dress, standing with him. She is pretty.
He worries that his “private” parts will show when she helps him don his pants. He worries about falling as he grabs his walker and stands for the first time that day. He worries about having to leave his walker outside the bathroom and take the few steps to the toilet unprotected. He worries what people would think of a man who must sit like a woman rather than stand like a man. He worries about losing his balance as he attempts to sit.
He wonders why she’s standing there, a needle in her hand. He wonders why she pushes that needle into his arm.
He wonders what happened to that woman who used to give him coffee and breakfast. Was she the woman from downstairs who fell and went to the hospital? The woman who loved to shop? Who brought groceries in? Could she be the woman standing next to him now?
He wonders if she knows he eats oatmeal every morning-just a tiny bit of milk. And that he takes a lot of milk, not cream in his coffee, and always has a slice of buttered toast.
He worries that she is only having coffee and toast. Does she want some of his oatmeal?
He worries she won’t pull his chair out enough or put his walker close enough for him to walk to his favorite chair. He wonders if she’ll remember to push the lever down so his feet are up. Or that he needs his special blanket to keep him warm.
He worries when she says she has to leave. He wonders if she’s going shopping. He worries that she won’t be back to make lunch. He wonders why she is going to the hospital. Is she going to see that woman who fell? He wonders if he should go with her.
He wonders why she kisses him goodbye. He worries about being left alone.
He wonders who this other woman is who comes to stay with him. Wasn’t she the woman that fell? Did she ever make him coffee?
He worries about how long the woman who made his breakfast will be gone. He needs her to wake him, feed him and get him to bed.
He worries about her taking him to the car. He worries they won’t be home for dinner. He always eats at six.
He wonders what this place is. It’s not a house. He wonders why the lights are dim; why are there rows of chairs. Why is there a strong scent of flowers? He wonders why so many people are coming to him–sometimes holding his hand, sometimes kissing his cheek. Why are they all saying they are sorry? What is that at the front of the room? Why is she taking him there? Is that the lady from downstairs who fell, lying in that metal bed? Why does he want to touch her hand? Is she the lady who made his coffee and breakfast?
“She’s pretty. She always loved blue,” he whispers.
© 2020 Patricia LaPointe
Pat LaPointe, editor of Changes in Life, a monthly online women’s newsletter, is contributing editor of the anthology, The Woman I’ve Become: 37 Women Share Their Journeys from Toxic Relationships to Self-Empowerment. In addition, she conducts writing workshops for women — both online and onsite. Pat’s essays and short stories have been published widely. Currently, Pat is completing her first novel, forthcoming late 2021.