The Visit

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My head hurt, I think it always hurt anymore, but today it just hurt more than I could stand. And this woman was trying to talk to me. She looked like a mix of exasperation and sadness, but I couldn't tell why.

"Susan, my name is Susan. Do you remember that?"

She looked familiar so I nodded yes. There was something about her I connected with, but I wasn't sure what. I was normally great with names, but we all have our blind spots. I'd figure it out, I've always been good at figure things out.

The room was an eggshell blue, like a robin eggshell. I had a memory of my little girl coming into the house with a smile that could knock through the hardest heart. She held up a bundle of sticks woven into a prickly little nest filled with four pale blue eggs and a pile of shells. Her eyes shone with pride as I cooed over her find. What could I say, she had likely condemned those eggs to never hatch by bringing the nest in, but she was so proud.

So beautiful.

I patted her head. She had been my heart, her every accomplishment was my pride. For a room, though that blue was ugly, nobody would want to sleep in a room like this.

But someone did sleep here poor bastard. A small bed was pushed into the corner, evenly folded sheets and blankets hugged the thin mattress. The bed looked uncomfortable, and my back ached at just the memory of that mattress. A small chair squatted by the window, and I remembered trees and a groomed lawn. Long wistful hours staring out at the same thing waiting for Sally to finally get here.

The room was nearly bare which I respected. A room should speak for itself without any clutter, and the hospital feel of the room seemed right. I am not one for a hospital feel, have always disliked the antiseptic look, but I hated things on walls, and these clean lines I could appreciate. Allowing the room to speak for itself the way this one did.

Near the door, though someone had ruined the clean lines with an amalgam of photos and notes in the ugliest collage I'd ever seen. Photos were labeled with sticky notes as if someone was trying to name every moment in their lives, it distracted from the simplicity of the room. The photos looked important, but I could not tell what they were. Where I stood I couldn't make out the photos, but I'd look later, it's important to take note of these things.

"Are you ready for our walk?"

The woman's voice was patient, as one is when dealing with a child. It irritated me. I had not lived my life to be treated like a child. But so many people these days weren't raised right. I shook my head and thought about my answer. I wasn't sure if I was ready, but I knew I was going regardless, so I nodded yes and followed her out the door into a long hallway.

The hallway assaulted my nose with the stink of old people. It was like a sickness that someone has given up on washing away so they covered it with plastic flowers. I wasn't impressed with the people or the place. More bad color choices splashed along the walls and even the carpet was ugly pastels. I would be gagging at the color scheme if I dared open my mouth and let in the stink hanging on the air.

Old people shuffled here and there in robes. I counted maybe three younger folks mixed in, but by and far it was an elder's gathering. Their clothing was haphazard and poorly chosen. I looked down at the jeans and shirt I found myself in and felt a moment of sympathy for myself and these other poor fashionless souls. I knew my choices were better, but there was better, and there was what I normally wore.

I was not up to snuff, and I felt a moment's embarrassment that my wife or daughter might see me this way. Sally would be so upset, but our daughter would laugh. Who was I kidding our daughter likely wouldn't even notice. Her fashion sense had always lacked her mother's and my finesse. I stared at my clothing with the stink of old people in my nose and said the first thing that came to my mind and what it so happened to be.

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