21st Century
The Future
World Travel
Books & Film
Original Fiction
Opinion & Lifestyle
Politics & Living
Film Space
Movies in depth
Kid's Books
Reviews & stories

The International Writers Magazine - Our 23rd Year: Dreamscapes Life Stories

Marcia Dumler

"I love dust," she said to herself as she sat back in the comfortable reclining chair. "Dust, you can count on it always being there." She leaned forward slightly to trail three fingers on her right hand in the film of dust on the window sill. She turned her hand up to gaze at her fingertips.

"Lena," a cheerful voice said, "what are you doing? Here, let me get a moist cloth…" her voice trailed off as she ducked into the closet-like bathroom. She emerged holding the scrap of cloth and helped Lena clean the dust from her fingers. "Isn’t that better?" she asked not really expecting a reply. "Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt."
Lena’s misshapen fingers had jerked with the pressure. Arthritis had swollen the joints and made the fingers crooked. Lena wrapped her left hand around her aching right hand. She sighed slightly.
"I’ll be back later to check on you," Betty-Suzy-Mary, whatever her name was, made her way to the door.

Lena’s eyes shifted to the window. It was wide and tall. The street just outside was not what anyone would call busy, but Lena was still fascinated by the drama. There was that green car. It turned into the bricked house’s driveway just three houses from Lena’s window. A young man got out, opened the car’s back door, reached into the opening and lifted out a brown paper sack. He proceeded through the gate behind the house and disappeared.

"Ah, Phillip has brought the groceries to Margaret. She has been feeling ill lately and doesn’t get out much." Lena had no idea who the man in the green car was but the imagined names, and the drama entertained her as she watched.
Lena wondered if she would see the children today, but thought she wouldn’t because school took so much of their time. Even the little ones had sports and clubs. Lena shook her head.
"Lena, Lena," Lena felt her shoulder being shaken as a voice called her name. "Did you fall asleep, dear? Well, it’s time for dinner. Do you want to go to the dining room or would you like something brought to you?"
"I’m not really hungry so I think I’ll just not have dinner tonight," Lena was slightly pettish. Fallen asleep indeed, she’d been thinking and watching. She hated being talked down to.
"I think I’ll have something brought to you anyway. You know, you’ll be hungry and then you won’t sleep well." The rotund woman in the purple pants with matching pull-over top turned and bustled out.

Most of the serving women were at least artificially nice, but Lena didn’t like the purple one. She never listened and was impatient. What did Lena care anyway because her evening was planned. She had to prepare her questions for her daughter. Lena anxiously awaited the arrival of her only daughter. The visits were brief and usually only once every two to three weeks. It was such a shame that she lived so far away. She worked so hard, too. Lena was proud of her daughter who was an attorney trying to become a partner in her law firm. She’d make it soon, Lena was sure.

"Well now, let me see," Lena put her chin in her right hand. She ignored the pain in her fingers. "I think I’ll start asking about her recent research. She’s been talking about those dusty law books she has spent so much time with. I don’t have to remember the name or subject, that is not as important as the work done. She will tell me about it and I’ll watch the frowns and inflections that cross her face as she talks. Smiling and nodding occasionally will tell her I’m listening.
"She will ask me about things here. I know she doesn’t want complaints or worries so I’ll just say the staff has improved with that new one. I think she is in charge of housekeeping. I don’t seem to remember her name, but then names change so often.
"I’ll ask my daughter next about her new car. Maybe she will take my slight nudge to ask me to go for a short drive. Oh, the sound of the tires on the road, the houses of the town passing my sight, and the lawns, just turning that special shade of almost spring. She doesn’t know, but then I can’t hint too strongly. It might be considered a complaint and…"
"Lena, dear, here’s your dinner. See, I’ve made sure it is covered to keep it warm for you and I have this nice thermal coffee pot. Do you want me to pour it for you now?" Winnie chatted on.
"Yes, pour it, won’t you?" Lena said. Winnie wasn’t her name. Lena just called her that because of the Winnie the Pooh printed top she wore. Today’s version had a blue background. Lena sniffed.
"Are you catching a cold? Can I get you a tissue?"
Winnie moved closer to the night stand that held a box of white tissue.
"I don’t need a tissue," Lena said abruptly, too abruptly. "Thank you," she added to attempt to soothe the woman.

Lena didn’t look up, but knew Winnie had left. Absently, Lena examined the tray of food. She removed the dull metal cover. It slid across her tray and clattered on the floor. Her grip was not good tonight. On the plate was a brownish gray lump which must have been the meatloaf advertised on the menu. Lena picked up a spoon and pushed on the lump. A yellowish blob of grease seeped out from under it. She put the spoon down and turned her attention to her coffee. She put both hands around the warm cup. Even if she didn’t drink the coffee, the warmth of the cup felt good in her hands.

"Let’s see now," Lena thought, "Oh yes, I was planning on what to ask my daughter while I wait for her visit. I’ll ask her about her work as an attorney. She likes to talk about that because it’s what she is thinking about most of the time."
"Lena, Lena, time to wake up. It’s seven-thirty," the smiling blond woman was gently shaking Lena’s shoulder.
"Morning?" Lena opened her eyes to the sunlight filtering into her room through her east window.
"Let’s get you up and out to breakfast," the blond cheerful woman continued. "Do you want to dress or go in your nice cozy robe and slippers?"
"Robe. That will give me time to pick out something special to wear because, you know, I’m waiting for my daughter to visit," Lena said as she stepped into her bedroom slippers and put her left arm into her quilted robe."
"Go ahead and brush your teeth and comb your hair. We’ll see you in the dining room," the blond said with a lilt in her voice as she left humming some tune.

Breakfast was not extraordinary for Lena. Her cereal was cold and limp. Someone had poured the milk on it long before she arrived. Even the sugar had settled to the bottom. Lena tried a bite or two but found it unappetizing. She settled for the toast with its thin film of jelly and, of course, that warm cup of coffee.
As Lena walked back to her room to finish dressing, she thought to herself, "Oh, I’m so lucky to have something to look forward to. It’s good to have a daughter to wait for."

Lena picked out one of her favorite pair of slacks, a crème colored blouse and a blue cardigan sweater to keep her warm. It was drafty sometimes. She dressed and ran a brush through her graying hair thinking it might be time for a hair cut. Then she walked to her comfortable chair and began to watch for her daughter’s new silver car. It was very distinctive.
"Are you having lunch today?" the voice was abrupt.
Lena blinked several times. Had she fallen asleep? She wasn’t sure. "I’m waiting for my daughter," she answered. Her voice was strained with sleep and lack of use.
"Now, dear, you know your daughter died last year in that terrible court house shoot out. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time, it was. We all felt just terrible about it. But you can’t keep pretending. You must not disappoint yourself," the woman in the purple hospital workers’ uniform said.
Lena erupted in loud sobs. Her face was hidden in her hands as she leaned forward.
"What happened? Is someone hurt?"an authoritative voice from the door way asked.
"I just reminded her about her daughter and that she didn’t have to wait," the one in purple said apologetically.
"Don’t you realize that telling her that now is like telling her for the first time. She must relive that grief," the supervisor explained. "This is more than cruel."
"I didn’t mean to be cruel. I thought she just needed a reminder so she wouldn’t be disappointed," the one in purple tried to excuse herself.
"Go find something else to do, Chris," the supervisor ordered. "Don’t come back to this room today."

The supervisor sat on Lena’s bed and put an arm around Lena’s shoulder. She made comforting gestures and sounds while Lena sobbed. "There, there," she said, "it’ll be better, just you wait."
After a long period of time, Lena’s sobs quieted. Lena took another tissue from the supervisor and wiped at her eyes which were red and swollen.

The supervisor picked up the phone and ordered some hot tea for Lena. It arrived quickly. "Here, Lena, I’ve had some tea ordered for you. It will taste really good and will help you relax. Just take a sip."
The supervisor helped Lena steady her hands which were trembling. She understood the wisdom of allowing her to do the actual lifting of the cup and drinking.
"It’s good, thank you. I was cold, you know," Lena said very weakly.
"I thought you might be chilly," the supervisor said.
"I wish you would come to my room more," Lena gave a crooked smile to the supervisor.
"Oh, I stop by ever so often," the supervisor explained.
"Have you met my daughter? I know she would like you," Lena asked.
"I’ve talked to her on the phone a year ago. She seemed very nice, very intelligent."
"Oh, she is. She’s an attorney, you know," Lena said with pride, her tears forgotten.
"Drink your tea now, Lena. I have to get on with my work today. I’ll visit you again."

Lena sat back in her chair and thought about her visit. It felt good to have a visit, yes, even a tea party. She couldn’t wait to tell her daughter.
"I wonder how I can work that into my conversation with my daughter," Lena thought. "I shouldn’t begin with that. I should start with her work. She is always glad to talk about her research. Then maybe I can work it in about the tea party."
"Housekeeping," a voice from the doorway interrupted Lena’s thoughts. "Would you mind if I just did a little dusting?"
"Just leave it alone, won’t you? That dust isn’t in the way and besides, I’m waiting for a visit from my daughter, the attorney."

© marcia dumler June 2009
<mdumler_66073 at>

More stories about life in Dreamscapes


© Hackwriters 1999-2022 all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibility - no liability accepted by or affiliates.