Snapshots in the Care Home. by Sara Warshawski

Short Story

 

by Sara Warshawski

 

Mum loves the roses and freesias I bring, I find scissors, cut and place flowers in vase, on the table in the dining room, she puts her nose to the freesias, sniffing in the scent, ’mmm lovely’.

Little lady, Rose, slips her arm through mine and holds my hand. ‘Cake and tea? I ask. She nods and we walk to the hatch and then a smile that lights her eyes, so happy as her husband comes into the room. It’s heart-breaking to see, for him, the husband that danced and loved this lady, together brought up three boys now men. This mother who now can barely speak but squeaks with delight at the sight of him, loves the comfort of him holding her feet in his lap.

Suddenly Mum’s glove disappears down Mark’s trousers, two carers pull the waistband back of his trackies and peer down, nothing, a hand goes nearer, to skin and within his pants the glove is balled. To the laundry it goes and he saunters past and pinches Mum’s macaroon, small and brightest yellow not like the triangle shapes with a glace cherry we used to buy from the bakers in the high street.

Jack comes over and folds the travel brochure into the shape of an envelope, sticks on a phantom stamp ‘got to have a pee, I’ll be back’ a few words that make perfect sense in the jangled-up mix of vowels and consonants.

Some people like to eat lunch in a comfy chair, others at a table , others on the go. When the apricots and cream spill on the floor, John heads for the door confused as to where his desert has gone, bowl now turned upside down. He is given more.

And Mum, tears prick in my eyes, I try not to cry, but it is sad seeing her be like this she can still feed herself, but she is using the knife to try and cut the table cloth to a different length so that it doesn’t touch her knees.

And the new guy, so so angry ‘shut up shut up shut up, I am talking’ If you don’t’ … he clenches his fist and punches upwards. And Lily, cries out ‘I’m frightened’ And Nora is crying too ‘help, help me’ as she tries to stand but can’t make her legs cooperate. The carers are there, helping, hugging, smoothing hair.

Jean is folding napkins, clearing plates, trying so hard to be helpful, looking for patterns, trying to keep to patterns.

Where was Sophie? I missed her today.

For no apparent reason, Lucy starts screaming ‘you cow, you cow’ and throws her grapes and strawberries at Maggie who screams back ‘you fucking bitch’. Lucy’s husband slowly picks the fruit up of the floor , he looks like he barely inhabits his body, so shrunken in, so exhausted. His wife grabs a fork, throws it hard and it pierces Maggie’s leg. There is a lot of blood. The nurses are there in an instant with bandages and sympathy. Lucy is now asleep. Maggie slaps the nurse’s face hard and hard again as they bandage up her leg, find her some clean slippers.

Jean wanders through the dining room minus her trousers. Susan, clutching her trousers at the waist uses the other arm to coast around the room holding onto chairs, tables, bookshelves whilst the fabric pools on the floor making it hard for her to do more than shuffle slowly, Sian takes her hand, ‘come with me, let’s get the right trousers on you my love’.

 

All names have been changed. September 2018.