Friday, January 18, 2013

Master Class








Prompt: Marian thought long and hard before coming up with an opening sentence. She chose Emma Donoghue’s “Room for this week’s class. The first sentence is:
Today I’m five.



Today I'm five.  I am number five in the line to see the visiting doctor.  I know this because Nurse tells me when she comes into my room to wake me. The sun is bright on this day, and I close my eyes and instinctively roll away from the sudden light, but you do not refuse Nurse.  Ever.  I pretend to stretch instead of hide, and then I sit up, hoping that Nurse did not notice my bit of rebellion.   My hope is in vain; I find her glaring at me, her lips pursed in irritation.  She will punish me.

As she helps me out of bed, she pinches the thin skin on my arm, hard, digging a carefully manicured nail into the muscle.  I stumble, biting my lip to keep from crying out, and I am roughly pulled back into a standing position.  Nurse shakes me by my arm, a rag doll.  I hear one of my bones crack, and the sudden pain is almost as blinding as the sun. I feel warmth running down my leg, forming a puddle on the floor. 

"You are so very stupid!" Nurse hisses, but the puddle means that there will be witnesses, and I watch as she plasters a smile on her fat face and calls the orderlies to come help her clean me up.  Two women in white uniforms appear, one with a mop and bucket, and they help me into the bathroom to clean up and change my gown.  After that, they silently wheel a chair into my room and Nurse thanks them.  She whirls on me the second they are gone, shoving me into the chair. I hear the crack of another bone, and I can't help but whimper.

Nurse puts her face close to mine, so we are eye to eye. 

"When they ask you what happened, what do you say?"  her voice is mild, conversational, her eyes terrifying.  "Are you going to tell them?" 

I shake my head as vigorously as I can, my eyes wide with fear. Nurse stands up, her disgust plain.

"Good."  She moves behind the wheelchair, then leans over to whisper in my ear. I cringed.  "Nobody would believe you anyway.  You may have been a CEO, but you're just a crazy old woman now, Mother."

With that comment, my daughter pushes my chair out into the hall of the facility, whistling a happy tune. 

14 comments:

  1. Ye-gads! What a horrible daughter!

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    1. Fortunately, she is not based on anybody I know!

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  2. Wow, did you ever take that opening line to an unexpected place. The anger of the daughter sends my imagination whirling. What is the history in this family that has brought them to this point? You pulled me in with this piece.

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    1. When my father-in-law was alive and in a nursing home, we would find the halls lined with people in wheelchairs, just sitting there, waiting for various appointments. It used to make me sad, and the story sprang from that.

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  3. My heavens - what a brutal (yet brutally good) read.

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  4. Oh my. I wonder what sort of mother she was to deserve that sort of treatment. Or maybe her daughter is simply evil. You got me thinking. Elder abuse - you hear a lot about it. Sad... but you told it well.

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  5. Sadly, elder abuse is way too common. This story is a very strong reminder of the emotional fragility (and physical as well).

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  6. Jaw-dropping ending! Wow! How sad this is. That last sentence spoken by the nurse is pure venom. Excellent writing, Tina!

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  7. This story just broke my heart. It's not only very well written, you didn't shy away from the cruel reality.

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  8. Despite breaking my heart, this was a well-written story. The ending was perfect.

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  9. Oh my, that was so sad! I can't believe people sometimes!

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