Velma mumbles to herself, smooths her bib. She finished the pale pear atop a cup of cottage cheese, and once she had tackled the runny mound, Velma set to work on the ragged mattress of romaine on which it all had rested. With a butter knife she sawed at the leaf and with a fork she poked and stabbed until at length she'd snagged a limp morsel that she lifted to her drawn mouth, working it over her gums like cud.
What began, years ago, as a tremor in her hands has graduated to a full wobble that patience cannot remedy.
For a moment she takes her rheumy eyes off her plate and seems surprised to realize that she's in a room of wheel-chaired people not unlike herself, crooked and shriveled as stricken raptors. They've become caricatures of themselves, bearing little resemblance to their youth. No thought registers on their time-contorted faces.
"What day is it?" Velma calls, sitting forward in her chair, as if to stand.
"It's Tuesday," says an aide, setting cups of banana pudding in front of those who are able to feed themselves.
"Tuesday?" Velma leans back. "Not Sunday?"
"Nope. Tuesday," the aide repeats.
Velma appears to consider this for a moment, but her brow furrows as if logic is in defiance. She sets down her knife and notices her hand, holding it up to the light for a better look. It is shrunken, bony and stained with purples and blues. The skeletal fingers close into an arthritic fist and then reopen. She turns an empty palm toward her face.
Behind her, Lois begins to sing a song about birds. Velma turns as if to find the source of the noise. "Cut that out," she says. But Lois continues her solo, a song of three or four words and fewer notes.
"How am I supposed to get home?" Velma calls out.
No one responds.
She shakes her head, as if in disgust. Then she turns her attention back to her plate, lifting the knife into her right hand, the fork in her left. She saws away at the lettuce, the wobble in her hand keeping time with Lois's tune.
M C R
This work is copyrighted by the author, Cyn Kitchen. All rights reserved.