Hello people! Today is another flash fiction based on a song picked by a member of our blogging group. Today’s song is Alanis Morissette, Guardian.
“Write about Dogma!”
Thanks for the suggestion though.
Here we go, my song flash fiction for the month. Enjoy!
I don’t like this part of town. The houses must have been amazing in their prime but the houses are now usually full of transients who have no obligation to keep up appearances and landlords who really don’t care to make more than the minimum investments. It has a run down feeling. An uncared for feeling. A rotten feeling. With a day full of cold wind, gray clouds, and the smell of car exhaust, it was exceptionally rotten.
Parking a few houses down on the street I pulled out my bag and inspected it’s contents out of habit. Presentation material, extra contracts, my calculator, a few pens, business cards, a sticky note pad, and a planner. Today was my only out of office appointment and I was prepared for at least five. Typically a week consisted of ten appointments at most. Bad for business but, good for families who are in need to see someone like me. I flip down the visor and take a quick look at myself, wiping some makeup fall out off my cheek before applying a light lip gloss. Stepping out of the car I smooth down my trench coat and take a large step over the grass patch before reaching the side walk so my heels avoid picking up dirt. A few houses down two older woman sit on their porch and watch me intently, they both wear their hair pulled back, one in a bun, the other in curlers. Gossiping with coffee cups in their hand and wearing lazy comfort clothes. The one with curlers takes a long drag of her cigarette and does not break her stare when I catch hers. I’m sure I look out of place for this neighborhood and really, I look out of place almost every where I go. Important enough to look professional but not professional enough to be important.
My clients house is kept up reasonably. The siding could use a coat of paint and empty planters sit strategically around the porch. The home shows evidence of love but no energy. I knock the front door a young man answers. He is wearing a uniform for the grocery story a few blocks down with a name tag showing his name to be Ka’vonne. His dark eyes judge me quickly and he straightens his stance, lifting his chin up in an attempt to seem bigger but the boy is only a teen and still has a few inches to go to be taller than me even without heels.
“Hi, I have an appointment with Penny?”
“Yeah?” He pushes out his lips and looks me up and down before closing the door all but a small sliver and disappears. It’s only a quick moment before an elderly woman appears with a bright friendly smile on her face but happiness is absent from her eyes.
“Penny Hayworth?” I hold out my hand to her. “I’m Gail from Greer Memorial Gardens. We talked on the phone.”
“Yes, yes sweet darlin’. You just come on right inside. W’all just sit in the dinin’ room if you don’t mind.” I attempt to kick off my shoes as trained but Penny stops me. “Nah darlin’ that ain’t necessary. Floor’s cold.” And cold it was. The whole house smelled of stale air and where the weather didn’t allow a window to be open, stubbornness or money kept the heat from being turned on.
At the dining room table I open my bag and pull out a brochure but hesitate to open it. “I understand you are looking to preplan your husbands burial? Is he here?”
“Nah. He has Alzheimer’s. I lost him yah see?”
“You mentioned something about losing him on the phone but I’m sorry, I didn’t fully understand. Can you explain. He is still alive, yes?”
“Oh.” Penny smiled a little and itched her dark hair in a way the movement gave away it was not her own but rather a carefully styled wig. “I can explain. See my husband is a wanderer. He just gonna walk out of the house and he don’t know where he is and sometimes I ain’t sure he know who he is. I lost him. My neighbors, God bless em, they brought him home. But it just too late ya see? I lost him that day in ways. He ain’t here mentally and I can’t keep pretendin’. I just can’t care for him no more. I’m too old myself. Not only that but I’ve got the grandchildren to care for. Them good kids but I can’t keep up with it all. The grandchildren, I can manage the grandchildren. They smart. They manage themselves. But my Henry, I can’t live with myself if he done hurt himself or I lose him again. He needs nurses. He needs a safe home.”
This is a story I’ve heard before and I nod along as she speaks. I know where the conversation is going.
“We can’t afford care. And I was told about our options.” Penny smiles her empty smile.
I sit back in my chair and open up my brochure of memorials and vaults before reaching over the table and taking Penny by the hand. “I understand. You need to liquidate enough assets to go on medicare for you to afford care for Henry. We do this all the time. But trust me, you aren’t just taking care of him but you are taking care of yourself too. This is for both of you. Trust me when I tell you, you are not alone. And we’ll find something nice for him. A place you can visit to remember all the days when things were a little bit easier.”
Penny smiles. And for the first time during our visit her eyes smile too. “I love him you know. This ain’t easy. Nah. Not at all easy. But, I know what I have to do. Even if it be tough decisions. It’s all for the best.”
“You are doing a great job taking care of him and making sure he is being taken care of.”
“Darlin’ I try.”
And there we sat for hours. Drinking coffee to keep warm, talking about Henry in his prime, and sorting the details of their final resting place. The day came two years later when I saw Penny again but this time she wasn’t coming to see me and I stood in the shadows with the groundsmen. The funeral was small and Penny was the last to leave. I caught her eye only briefly and saw the face of a woman who wasn’t going to give up her guard just yet. Henry might be gone but she will be back and will always be watching to make sure her love rests peacefully even in his grave.