Slice of Write

stories & jibber-jabber

Don’t feel sorry for me.  I didn’t ask for your pity and I certainly don’t need it.  Remove that sorrowful look in your eyes, and get your caring hand off of my shoulder.  I know you don’t agree with my choice to stay with Adam, but it’s my choice.  You think I’m some stupid, sheepish, stereotype of a broken woman that needs your help to save me.  Float on by with your pretentious lifeboat because I don’t want it.  I can swim on my own and make it to where I need to go without your help.  I hear about other women whose husbands cheat on them, leave them no food in the house, gamble their rent money, and all kinds of other horrible things. 

Adam has a quick temper and can say some cruel things sometimes, but he’s a hard worker, a wonderful father, and provides for our family.  He works extra jobs or overtime when asked, he goes grocery shopping for his mom every Sunday, and is a coach on our son’s soccer team.  He isn’t perfect, but no one is.  Yes, his harsh words can hurt more than his fists sometimes, but wounds heal.  I’m strong and don’t need anyone to tell me how to care for me or my son, Sammy. 

My parents don’t visit our house much anymore.  They attend all of Sammy’s soccer games and will take him out for pizza afterwards.  Mom and dad always ask me to come, but I decline.  If they can’t get along with Adam, then I can’t be with them.  I get tired of their lectures and always offering to “help me” get away from him.  There is nothing to get away from.  I am content.  I am where I need to be.  It’s been weeks since Adam has raised his hand to me.  I’ll admit, the last time was bad.  I think it scared both of us.  I remember I had fallen asleep on the couch waiting for him to come home from work.

“Hey, you didn’t have to wait up,” Adam said as he walked over to the couch and caressed my face.

“It’s ok,” I quickly sat up.  “Let me get you something to eat.”  Adam followed me into the kitchen.  He grabbed a soda out of the fridge and sat at the kitchen table.  I took the leftover meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and veggies from the fridge.  I positioned everything on the plate exactly how Adam likes it and carefully put the plate in the microwave. 

“How was your day?” I asked sincerely.

“Good.  Eric called in sick again which is friggin annoying, but I picked up some overtime,” Adam wiped his brow.

“That’s great.  Maybe we can buy Sammy his new shin guards this weekend,” I said as I walked over to the silverware drawer. 

“What?” Adam said in a disapproving tone.  I could already tell where this was going.

“Um, Sammy needs new shin guards for soccer.  His other ones are pretty bad.  We talked about it last week, remember?” I said soothingly.  I remember not wanting to escalate the situation, especially with Sammy asleep in the house.

“Goddamn.  We spend more money on that kid than anything.  I work my friggin ass off and have nothing to show for it.  Between you and him, there is nothing left for me.  For once, I would like to have something for me!”  Adam slammed his fists against the kitchen table.  The sound was louder than I expected.  I hope it didn’t wake up Sammy. 

“I know, I’m sorry,” I said as I took the plate out of the microwave and walked over to the kitchen table.

I gently placed the dish on the table and took a few steps back.

Adam shouted, “Fuck!  Meatloaf.  Seriously? We just had meatloaf last week.  Can’t we get some different food for once.  You need to work on your cooking skills.  I work 12 hours a day and can’t even come home to a decent dinner!”  He threw the plate against the wall.  “Fuck!”  Adam yelled and walked into the living room. 

I followed him. 

“I’m sorry.  Let me make you something else.”

He turned around and just stared at me.  Adam’s eyes looked black and his mouth was quivering.  His appearance startled me.  I almost didn’t recognize him.  Sweat was gathering at his brow again and his hair looked like it needed to be washed.  I felt like a gazelle staring at a hungry cheetah.  I was frozen; careful not to make any sudden moves to provoke him.

“Don’t fucking bother.  I don’t ask for much and you can’t even make me a decent dinner!”

We stared into each other’s eyes. 

I regrettably broke the silence.

“I’m sorry.” I held my head down in shame.

“You’re always sorry.  I’m tired of your sorries; I’m tired of your cooking, and I’m fucking just tired of you!”

Tears started to uncontrollably flow from my eyes.

“Oh, great.  Here come the water works.  I’m the mean son of a bitch.  I know.  I have to feel sorry for you and then that will be it.  Stop crying.  Stop your fucking crying right now!”

I wiped the tears from my face as fast as I could.  Adam suddenly grabbed each of my shoulders and pushed me into the wall. 

“Am I a good husband?”  He spit in my face as he asked his question.

“Yes, of course,” I mumbled.

“Am I a good provider?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Then why do you treat me like this.  Why can’t you just take care of me like a good wife should?”

I stood there trying to hold back the tears again.

“Why!” Adam shouted as he hit my head against the wall. 

“Tell me why you are such a bad wife.  I treat you well.  You don’t work.  You do whatever you want to do all day while I bust my fucking ass!”  Adam slammed my head against the wall again.  This time it felt much harder and an incredible headache was setting in.  Adam grabbed my throat and started choking me.  I struggled to keep my eyes open as I felt myself losing consciousness.  All of the sudden I heard “Mom!”  Hearing Sammy’s voice hit me like a cold shower.  I opened my eyes and saw Adam staring down at me with rage I had never seen before.  When he yelled at Adam to go back to bed, I summoned all of the strength I had left, pried my hands free, and scratched the hell out of Adam’s face.  He stepped back and yelped in pain like an injured animal. 

“Fucking bitch!”  Adam took a step closer like he was going in for the kill, but changed his mind and walked to the kitchen instead.  My sweet Sammy helped me to the bathroom.  He retrieved the first aid kit and helped assess my injuries.  He was only 9 years old, but has done this too many times to count.  He wants to be a doctor so he can help people.  I encourage him and tell him he can be whatever he wants to be, and I will always love him. 

“Mommy, it was bad this time,” Sammy whispered as he helped me put dressing on my wounds. 

“I know, baby.  I know.  I’m sorry.  You were supposed to put your headphones on, remember?  I told you to put them on whenever you hear daddy yelling.”

“I’m sorry mom, I know.  But even with the headphones on I could still hear him.”

I hugged Sammy and we just held each other for a few wonderful, quiet moments.  Sammy helped me to bed.  He fluffed my pillows and gave me the water bottle from his room.  He was afraid to go into the living room or kitchen in case Adam was still on the warpath.  It was silent now, so Adam probably fell asleep on the couch.  Sammy gave me a kiss on the cheek and went to bed.  I felt like he was the parent tucking me into bed.  Adam would never hurt Sammy, but I do worry about when Sammy gets older.  Sammy has already shown signs of wanting to defend me from Adam.  If Sammy gets in his way, I don’t know what Adam will do.  Hopefully, it will never come to that.  The next morning Adam came into the room before sunrise and sat on the bed.  He gently grabbed my hand and apologized for last night.  He had tears in his eyes and expressed his wholehearted regret.  Later that day, I received flowers from Adam.  He also texted me from work that he loved me and would pick-up pizza for dinner tonight.  We ate pizza, played a board game, and watched the news before bedtime.  Adam read Sammy a bedtime story and then came to bed with me about an hour later.  Those are the best nights.  The nights I look forward to.  I love Adam and Sammy more than anything, and all I want is to be the best wife and mother.

My mom is the most difficult person to buy for.  She never wants anything or needs anything, as she tells us, or gives us an iota of a clue of what she may like.  My mom’s hobbies include playing bunco, drinking white Russians, and yelling at tv commercials.  We have bought her countless bunco playing sets and bottles of expensive vodka. Despite all of this, her hall closet is full of new bunco sets, and kitchen cabinets are overflowing with vodka bottles.  She prefers to use the old bunco set she has had since I can remember, and buy the cheap bottle of vodka that literally just says “vodka” on the label.  I don’t know how she does it; just smelling that stuff gives me an acid reflux attack.  The last few years my brother, John, and I usually end up getting her a gift card to one of her favorite restaurants or clothing stores.  Her 60th birthday is coming up in a few weeks and we purchased a 7-day cruise in the Florida Keys.  We also bought an extra ticket so she can take one of her friends along.  Initially, we thought about buying tickets for all 3 of us to go but could never decide on a date that worked with our schedules.  John said mom would probably rather go with one of her friend’s than us anyway.  I see his point.  She could hang out and do whatever she wanted, without having us tag along.

Her special day finally came.  We had a party at her house with her closest friends, bunco buddies, and her sister that lived in the area.  They don’t always get along, but we had to invite her.  It would have been rude not too.  The party was swinging by 6:00 p.m.  We had music, lots of delicious food, and pics of mom blown up and placed throughout the rooms.  It’s funny, I never realized mom has pretty much had the same hairstyle since I was a kid.  Short hair with a hint of side bangs.  Her hair has always been a deep shade of auburn.  She tells me it will always be that color no matter how old she gets.  Years ago, mom made me promise to make sure her hair is still auburn even at her funeral.  I had laughed, but she grabbed my hand and made me swear.  I couldn’t believe how serious she was about her hair.  She scared me so I agreed with no questions asked.

Mom opened her gifts in front of everyone and seemed to really enjoy the cruise tickets.  John and I hugged and patted each other on the back.  The present curse is over!  About an hour later, John, mom, and I were cleaning up the house.

“You guys really shouldn’t have gone to all of that trouble,” mom said to John and me.

“Mom, we love you.  It’s your special birthday,” John smiled as he was washing dishes in the kitchen sink.

“Yeah, mom.  We want you to have a great time,” I said as I placed more dishes on the counter.

“Would you guys be mad if I didn’t go,” Mom said in a soft voice.

“What?” John and I both asked simultaneously.

“It’s a wonderful gift and all, but I can’t do it.”

“Mom, why not?”  I asked while trying not to sound irritated.

“You two must have forgotten I get deathly seasick.  Remember the time we went to Catalina and I spent the entire boat trip in the bathroom.  Not to mention half the rest of the day in the public restroom.”

John and I stared at each other.

“Mom, they have the bracelets, the pills, and patches that help with all of that,” I said as I walked over to her.

“Right.  Plus, it’s one of those gigantic cruise ships.  You won’t feel a thing,” John said as he turned away from the sink and wiped his hands on a kitchen towel.

“I can’t do it.  I’m sorry.  I think it would be better if you kids went,” Mom said curtly and then walked into the living room. 

I whispered to John, “What the hell, seriously?”

“Well, the curse lives,” John smirked and went back to washing dishes.  I grabbed a dish towel and started drying.  We could hear mom yelling at the tv from the other room.

“Shit!” I yell as I hit my head on the overhang above my staircase.  I finish climbing down the stairs and stop for a second to make sure that I’m still functioning in a “normal” capacity.  I run through the questions of asking myself my name, date, and occupation.  I correctly answer the questions.  Okay, good, hopefully that means no concussion.  However, if I really was answering the questions incorrectly, would I even know?  And if not, then this whole routine would be moot anyway. 

I have lived in this apartment for over three years and I still hit my head on that damn overhang at least once a month.  One time I really do think I gave myself a concussion.  I was carrying the laundry basket downstairs, rushing to grab my cell phone in the living room, and then knocked myself pretty good.  I felt like one of those old cartoons where the character gets knocked in the head and the audience sees stars around him.  I always wonder if there were stars floating around my head that day.  I was left with a massive headache and a nice bump on my head.  At first, I told people the true story, causing their eyes to glaze over with boredom within seconds. 

A few days later, I met up with some old co-workers for drinks and told them I was in a snowboarding accident.  They were pretty impressed, then disbelief set it in, and then laughter.  It was hard for me to keep a straight face when telling them anyway.  Let’s just say, I don’t have the typical snowboard physique.  Years ago, some friends convinced me to go snowboarding with them.  I should have kept with my gut reaction of no.  Peer pressure set in and I finally said yes, knowing that I would probably regret my decision.  I was right.  It was a miracle I survived.  I used muscles I didn’t even know I had – muscles that never should be used in that way.  I was sore for over a week and cursed snowboarding the entire time.  The physical bruises healed but not the emotional ones. 

I check my watch and realize I’m running late as usual.  I grab my cell phone and I’m out the door.  Hopefully, the morning will go better than it started.  It’s Monday so I don’t have high hopes. 

(I was feeling a bit murky this week and ended up experimenting with my Edgar Allen Poe side a little bit more than usual. Hope you like it! The End…)

It’s an early Monday morning in August.  The streetlights still shine through the curtains in the exquisite master bedroom.  A hot wind blows through the single open window closest to the bed.  The man knows it’s his time, but he’s not ready to go.  He’s not a religious man; he never was.  Unlike many of his friends who found God as they got older; the man felt they only did so because they were scared to die without purpose, without an afterthought. What does that matter?  It’s not a legacy. Just another obituary in the Sunday morning newspaper. 

After the tears, the memorial, the selling of whatever large or small possessions, it’s only a matter of time until you are forgotten.  Nietzsche had it right.  Why live in fear?  Why live your life as if there is an afterlife to prepare for?  Wasting your years on Earth, longing for an afterlife that probably doesn’t exist; not enjoying the actual life you were given.  That is the real shame.  But, as the man kneeled beneath the reaper, begging for his life, he felt remorse.  He wasn’t ready to go yet.  Yes, he had a family, a fulfilling and profitable career, seen parts of the world most have only dreamed of, and had never wanted for anything, yet, he still wasn’t ready for it all to end.  The man had lived more than two men combined, but he still wanted more. 

The reaper laughed at the man’s selfishness as he wept before him.  The man realized pity was not working on the reaper so he turned to bargaining.  He promised the reaper money, power, whatever he wanted, the man said he would get it for him.  The reaper grinned down at the man and whispered something in his ear.  The man’s eyes grew large and a look of utter shock melted over his face.  The reaper leered into the man’s bulging eyes, smiled, and softly caressed the man’s right cheek.  The man drew his last breath and fell to the ground.  Though his body now lay motionless, the man still had that same surprised look on his face.  Energized and full of smite, the Reaper moves on, and the man is already a distant memory. 

Public goodbyes are always awkward, especially with your parents.  No matter how many times you come and go, say goodbye, or see you at the next holiday, wedding or funeral, they never get easier for a mother, even when her son is 36 years old.  Twelve kisses, and a billion hugs from my mother, and a handshake and one manly hug from my father later, I was off to the security gate to undress.  Standing in line, holding my belt, shoes, and dignity, I debate to myself if I left my razor in my carry-on, or remembered to put it in the checked bag.  I try to keep my panic attack to a minimum as I quickly throw my stuff in a plastic container and wait my turn to go through the metal detector.  The lady in front of me, obviously an 80-year-old, blue-haired drug smuggler, sets off the machine.  After 30 seconds of searching, it ends up being her necklace that sounded the alarm. 

I slickly walk through the machine and thankfully do not set anything off.  I await my bag, which also passed the test, and then stumble over to a bench to reassemble myself.  Either my razor has been overlooked, or I had remembered to put it in the other suitcase, either way I was excited to be on my way to gate C23. Now the gauntlet begins.  The journey from the security area to the boarding gate can be a tricky maze.  I admit, I’m more of a defensive walker.  I’m traveling alone, have one carry-on, and no allies.  I accept the fact I am outnumbered by large families, strollers, and couples who refuse to unclasp their hands when walking in crowded places, no matter the fact it may cause the death or paralysis of a stranger or two. 

My heart starts to race as I begin my journey.  I try and stay on the right side of the walkway since I am slower because I have a habit of looking at the shops and restaurants as I pass by.  Yes, I know this is dangerous, but I can’t help myself.  The newsstands, candy shops, and fast food restaurants are the only entertainment I will have for what feels like will be an eternity.  I stop to buy a cup of coffee and find a seat at gate C23.  Two cups of coffee, one trip to the bathroom, and 45 pages later, the boarding call is finally made.  People rush into line like its one minute until they start charging dinner prices at the buffet line. 

On the way to my seat, I help an elderly gentleman put his suitcase in the overhead bin.  I was feeling pretty good about myself until two seconds later a short, scary lady almost knocked me over when she backed up into me with what I can only imagine is a bag carrying a large child or very small adult.  After I shake off the concussion, I finally sit down.  The couple next to me are arguing over what time the rental car place closes.  I put on my headphones, close my eyes, and start to relax.  Just when I was about to fall asleep, I remember I left my razor at my parent’s house.  I put it on the dresser so I wouldn’t forget it.  Obviously, that worked out as planned.  Damn!  I heave a big sigh at myself and try to relax again.  I wonder if I my electric razor is charged.  My mind wanders the rest of the plane ride home. 

Dad worked as a limo driver six days a week.  However, when someone called in sick, or we needed the extra money for my braces or to repair the leaky roof above the garage, then Dad would take the overtime and lose his one day off.  Dad is the hardest working person I have ever known.  He was never late to work, that I know of, and rarely called in sick.  I remember one time he had the flu and he was sitting at the kitchen table with his hands over his eyes.  He looked so pale and exhausted.  Mom called in sick for him and helped him back to bed.  At first, he tried to fight her, but gave up quickly and allowed her to help him back to their room.  The next day dad was back at the kitchen table.   He still looked pale and exhausted, but at least he could hold his head up without it looking like it was going to fall off. 

Dad instilled a great work ethic not through his words, but truly through his actions.  I don’t remember a time that I didn’t think my dad was the greatest man alive.  I still do.  He loved my mom and I, and always provided for us.  I always feel safe when my dad is around.  Even though dad is now retired, has snow white hair, and carries a cane, I still feel like he is my greatest protector.  I know that may sound silly to some at my age, but it’s true.  On the rare Sundays when dad didn’t have to do chores or work around the house, he would take mom and I on these glorious drives.  Dad knew all of the great picnic areas, parks, and lookout points.  I never understood how dad could stand driving us around after driving 6 days a week for work, but he loved it. 

I remember my dad in the driver’s seat wearing his gigantic sunglasses with a big smile on his face, listing to mom singing along to the radio, and me watching the cars pass by, making up grand stories of where everyone was traveling.  Dad said he enjoyed being out and about whether it was in the city, suburbs, or the country.  This is why I have been dreading today.  Today, I am taking away dad’s car keys.  Unfortunately, his eyesight and perception have gotten worse over the past year, and there is nothing more the doctors can do.  The conversation with dad about not driving anymore was heartbreaking.  Dad sat there with a knowing look on his face and sadness in his eyes.  I held it together until we finally agreed on today’s date and then I started balling.  There I was, taking this beautiful man’s freedom, and he ended up comforting me that rainy afternoon. 

I am meeting dad at the house at 9 am and he is going to take me on our last Sunday drive.  I promised I would continue our tradition, but we both knew it wouldn’t be the same.  I finished packing our lunch, grabbed my purse and keys, and started walking to the front door.  I stopped at the entry wall and gazed at the photo of my dad standing in front of our old Chevy.  He had the same boisterous look on his face and gigantic sunglasses sitting on top of his head.  Dad was holding mom is his arms and I stood in front of them squinting because the sun was so bright with a funny grin on my face. 

I wish mom was here to join us on our last drive.  Mom passed away from a heart attack over 7 years ago.  She went to bed and never woke up.  The doctor said it was painless, but that still didn’t ease our grief.  I remember the first drive we took after mom died.  It was awkward sitting in the front seat.  That was always mom’s spot.  It didn’t feel right to be there.  I wanted to be in my normal seat, right behind my dad.  I never thought that I would have to take the keys away from the man that raised me; the man that taught me to drive.  I took one last look at the photo and forced myself out the front door. 

The long day was finally over and now I was ready to start my commute home.  On a “good” day I can get home in 45 minutes, but I could already tell from the back-up on the freeway onramp it was going to be a bad traffic day.  I sigh as I wait in line to hit the light just to get onto the freeway.  Not sure why it’s called a freeway?  Most times I am going 60 mph or less.  As I complain in my head about traffic, and too many people and cars on the road, I chuckle to myself.  I’m starting to sound like my parents!  I find my driving playlist and I am ready to go.  I’m singing along to Footloose when I finally get merge onto the freeway at 5 mph.  Woo hoo! 

About 30 minutes in and I am now completely stopped.  According to google maps, the 91 freeway is completely red for another 7 miles.  UGH.  I wish I hadn’t forgot my driving shoes this morning. Usually I’ll wear my tennis shoes or sandals when I’m driving, and then change into my heels when I get to work.  I had been running late this morning and forgot to bring my extra pair.  I have done this before, and tried driving home with bare feet, but that didn’t work out so well last time.  I need to just keep an extra pair in the car.  That would make the most sense, but I like to do everything the hard way.  I open the visor and look in the mirror to check the status of the pimple on my chin.   Every time I inspect the dumb thing, I swear it has grown.  Yep, there it is.  In all of its beautiful red glory.  My concealer has rubbed off again and the red menace beams. 

I smile into the mirror and notice a speck of something sitting between one of my front teeth and the tooth next to it.  I try and pop it out with my fingernail, but it’s not budging.  Stubborn little bastard.  I continue to keep my eyes on the road.  Nope, nothing new to report.  Some guy in a creepy minivan fires off his horn every couple of minutes.  I guess just to let us know he is still there and still an asshole.  We know guy, we know.  I grab my purse on the passenger seat and find my floss in one of the zipper compartments.  I knock the annoying piece of whatever out with the floss on the first try.  I carefully examine the floss to identify the foreign object.  It’s a tiny black dot.  A flake of pepper maybe?  Oh, maybe it was from my sandwich at lunch today.  Or, maybe remnants of the oreo cookies I had for dessert? 

Oh my God!  I’ve had this crap in my teeth since after lunch.  I had that 5-minute conservation with the cute new guy in the copy room after lunch.  I was flirting and smiling.  I thought he was smiling and laughing with me, but it was probably at me.  How embarrassing.   He was probably thinking, why is this girl with the grotesque teeth and gigantic pimple talking to me?  I’ll just avoid him until the pimple goes away and then start over.  Maybe he’ll forget.  Or maybe he is telling all of his friends the story about the witch that was flirting with him at work today?  I hate traffic!  I just sit here with too many thoughts in my head.  I find Footloose again on my playlist and start singing along. 

I close my eyes and anxiously wait to hear my name.  My appointment time was 20 minutes ago, but I’m still sitting in this brown, uncomfortable chair.  The empty chair next to me has a gigantic dark stain on the back and on the seat.  I am curious, yet mortified, thinking who or what caused it.  The woman sitting across from me is scanning Facebook on her phone.  A couple sitting a few chairs down from me are softly chatting about what they are going to plant in their garden this spring.  The receptionist is on the phone trying to reschedule an appointment for a difficult patient. 

Despite the large window looking down from the second floor, into the parking lot, it still feels dark and stale in the room.  The window is completely useless.  Barely allowing any light in, and no foreseeable way to open the damn thing, I just want to scream.  I want to grab that disgusting chair next to me and throw it through the window.  I want to watch the chair fly through the air and quickly drop into the parking lot onto the gigantic Cadillac Escalade that is illegally parked in the first handicap parking spot in the front of the building.  The chair would make a large sound as it crashes through the windshield.  The jerk who parked there will come out of the building, start yelling and pointing up towards the broken window on the second floor. 

As I stand there, smiling, I take a deep breath, and then faintly hear my name being called.     

Marilyn lays in bed as she looks out the bedroom window.  She watches a pair of hummingbirds fly past the big oak tree.  Another beautiful morning, she thinks to herself as Anna enters the room.  Marilyn and Anna have shared a room at an assisted care facility for just over 8 months. 

“Nice of you to finally join the living,” Anna said as she sat down on her bed and placed her cane against the nightstand.

“I didn’t see you in bed, so thought you might have died last night,” Marilyn grinned.

“In your dreams,” Anna said.

“Maybe tomorrow,” Marilyn smirked.  “Why do you wake up so damn early anyway?  There’s nothing going on at 5 am in this place, except all of the other old geezers wandering the halls.”

“Habit, I guess.  Anyways, it’s quiet and I can hear myself think.”

“Why would you want to do that?”

“Hell, if I know, but you should try it some time.”

“Anna the Thinker, Jesus Christ, what is this world coming to?  Oh, Great One, what’s for breakfast?”

“Cold eggs and hot milk.”

“Oh, good.  I wouldn’t want it the other way around for Christ’s sake.”

“At least they are consistent.  I’ll give them that,” Anna said as she started thumbing through a magazine. 

Marilyn slowly got up, grabbed her walker, and headed towards the bathroom.

“Make sure to use that febreze.  Yesterday it smelled like a dairy farm in there,” Anna shouted as Marilyn shut the bathroom door.  Marilyn slightly opened the door, just enough to give Anna the middle finger, and then slammed the door shut.

About twenty minutes later, Marilyn came out of the bathroom dressed in her day clothes. 

“I was getting ready to call the nurse on you.  I thought you might have fallen in there,” Anna said as she changed the stations on the tv remote.

“I told you, don’t call the nurse unless it’s Jackson.  I don’t like the other ones.”

“Ok, so if you are laying on the floor, and Jackson is not around, you want me to leave you on the floor until he clocks in?”

“You know what I want.  Don’t play dumb like my children.”

“Are they coming to visit tomorrow?”  Anna asked gently.

“I haven’t heard from them so I’m not sure,” Marilyn said as she slowly sat on the chair near her bed and started digging in her purse.

“Screw ‘em,” Anna smiled.  “That’s why I never had any.  Ungrateful bastards.  All they do is take.  You give up your body, the prime of your life for them, and then when you need them, those assholes are too busy to stop by for an hour to see you.”

“You didn’t have any kids because your husband was smart enough not to let you procreate.  And for your information, it’s not like that.  They are busy.  I know they love me.”

“I still say screw ‘em,” Anna grabbed her cane, got up from her bed, and walked over to Marilyn.  “Do you want to get some breakfast?  They are getting ready to shut it down in 15 minutes.”

“Sure.” 

Anna carefully helped Marilyn up from the chair and onto her walker, using her cane to stable her.  They walk slowly down the long hallway, saying hello to other residents and facility staff along the way.  Anna doesn’t remove her hand from Marilyn’s back until they enter the dining room. 

Why did I drink that large iced tea at lunch?  I knew I had this staff meeting right after, and they can drone on for up to two hours.  We were about an hour in when I started to feel that all too familiar urge to flee to the restroom.  I normally would just get up and leave the meeting, but I came in right before it started, and got stuck in a seat near the front, next to my boss.  I would have to climb over him and the other five people around me.  Our conference room is not big enough for all of us, so it’s always hot and overcrowded during these meetings.  People sweating and fanning themselves like it’s a fourth of July picnic in the there. 

I tried to casually glance at my watch…again.  Damn, it had only been 3 minutes from the last time I checked it.  How is that possible?  Nancy was still talking about development mailers that nobody cared about except their department.  I uncrossed and then crossed my legs again.  I nodded and smiled at Nancy.  She smiled back at me.  This half-listening thing really works.  No wonder my husband does it to me.  Gary, sitting 2 people down the table from me, is tapping his stupid pen on the table again.  I want to grab his pen and throw it across the room.  How can he not know how annoying that sound is? 

My boss says something and then calls my name.  It’s my turn to bore my co-workers with the status of my projects.  I list off the top 3 things I’m working on, all while trying not to show I’m holding in a liter of iced tea, and that I may explode at any moment.  I finish talking and check my watch again.  We are going on an hour and 45 minutes at this point.  Ten minutes later the meeting finally ends, and people start unfolding themselves from the conference room.  My boss stops me for a minute to tell me about some stupid email he received and how he is going to forward it to me.  Blah Blah Blah.  I smile and run out of the room like a crazy lady in my bathrobe pushing into a Wal-Mart on Black Friday. 

I slip my cell phone into my notebook and throw the notebook on the bathroom counter to save it from sitting on the ground.  Just the thought of leaving it on the bathroom floor grosses me out.  I run to the closest stall, slam the door, and undress.  Just as I was about to release this horrific liquid from my body, I hear a voice.  “Hello, Hello,” it took me only two seconds to realize it was my mom’s voice.  What is she doing in the restroom?  Oh crap, it’s coming from the cell phone!  “Hello.  Anyone there?”  Oh my God!  I must have butt dialed her when I threw my phone in the notebook.  I hear someone enter the bathroom and go into a stall a few doors down.  My mom is still bellowing “Hello!”  Jesus Christ, please hang up! 

I finally make the decision to quickly reassemble myself, run to the notebook, and hang up on my poor mom.   I run back into the restroom and start the routine all over again.  I finally relieve myself.  In mid-stream I hear my phone ring.  I’m sure it is my mom calling to ask if I butt dialed her.  When I finally finish my business, I wash my hands, and take my notebook and phone back to my cubicle.  I text my mom back, told her I’m sorry, and that I would call her after work.  I sit down at my desk and throw the styrofoam cup that held the evil, delicious iced tea into the trash can.  I completely miss.  I chuckle to myself as I stand up, pick the cup off of the ground, and throw it away.