Good morning, everyone! How’s your Thursday going so far?
Last night I watched part of The People’s Choice award show while I ate a late dinner. I was pleasantly surprised when Nathan Fillion won, not surprised at all when Hunger Games won, and felt fairly old and out-of-touch when the musical performers were on stage. I think I may finally have to admit I’ve reached the same stage in life my parents did when they didn’t recognize any of the songs my teenage self listened to, nor did they care to learn. Pretty soon I’m going to be yelling at kids to get off my lawn.
Well, maybe not that soon.
Okay, time to quit nattering about my creeping decrepitude and get on with the fiction. This week’s story is a contemporary fantasy about love, old age, and how a special moment can be recaptured even when we think it’s long gone. I hope you enjoy “How We Danced.”
HOW WE DANCED
Copyright © 2012 Annie Reed
Tonight the test hurt.
Claudia let out an involuntary cry as the lancet pierced the pad of her index finger. Blood welled out, a fat red droplet, and she looked away.
“I’m sorry, Mom,” Gary said. “I had to dial the thing up. Last time, I hardly got enough on the strip.”
Claudia kept staring at the blank ivory wall of her room. She didn’t need to see the numbers on the tester’s readout to know her blood sugar was too high. She’d had a fuzzy-headed feeling all day, the muzzy, sleepy grogginess that went hand in hand with her disease. No amount of wishing made the feeling go away, and now the high number would be charted, and tomorrow the staff would take away her pudding. They thought she wouldn’t notice. They didn’t realize she noticed everything.
Like the sickly-strong scent of the floral room freshener plugged into an outlet on the other side of her room, the aroma meant to mask the odor of bedpans and ammonia.
Like the steady moaning of the woman in the next room when she fell into a fitful, nightmare-filled doze.
Like the gradual loss of compassion in her son’s eyes as he made his twice-weekly evening visits, always accompanied by the twice-weekly testing of her blood.
Her family couldn’t afford to keep her in a nursing home, and no one in the family could care for her in their own homes. Gary was single, but his job barely kept him afloat. Claudia’s daughter lived halfway across the country with a husband who had his own health issues. Gary had explained the situation to Claudia when he’d moved her into this group home after her stroke. He’d talked to her like everyone did, like she was a little child who couldn’t understand anything.
Claudia understood everything. The stroke had left her unable to talk, unable to walk, unable to do almost anything for herself, but it hadn’t left her unable to think.
(read the rest of the story here)