Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Confused (08/16/07)
TITLE: Fade to Black
By Betty Castleberry
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She clicked on the TV, waiting to see if the morning talk shows or the evening news would be on. Instead, she was assaulted with commercials.
Frowning, she rose and went into her kitchen. A plastic see-through pill organizer sat on the table. She picked it up. The days were clearly initialed in large black letters. Her home care nurse refilled the box every Wednesday. Was today Wednesday? Had the nurse been there today? The box was about half full. Maybe it was Saturday.
Naomi poured water into a cup and set it in her microwave. She could no longer use her stove. Someone had disconnected it. She pushed a button on the microwave, hoping it was the right one. A short time later, the buzzer sounded. Naomi plopped a tea bag into the warm water and dipped it up and down mindlessly. The first sip puckered her lips and warmed her throat. She carried her tea out onto the porch. Most of the neighbors’ cars were in their drives, and a whiff of burning charcoal filled her nostrils. It must be evening.
Then she remembered. Her alarm clock would tell her for certain if it was before noon or after. She shuffled down the hall and peered at her nightstand. There was no clock there. What in the world had she done with it? Why would she move it?
She dropped her head into her hands, hot tears scalding her cheeks. There was a time when her mind was sharp. She taught school for thirty years. People had come to her for advice. What was this black intruder that caused her to feel so bewildered?
She wiped her eyes on her sleeve and went back to the kitchen. She had to stay focused. If it was evening, she needed to take her blood pressure medication. Surely it was Saturday. She picked up the pill organizer and flipped open a section marked with an “S.” Three pills lay inside. One was red. She didn’t know for sure, but she thought it was her allergy pill. She wouldn’t take that one. The other two were flat white ovals, similar in size. One was for her blood pressure, and one was a mystery to her. Was it her arthritis pill? Was it for her dizzy spells? She scooped both of them up and swallowed them quickly with a sip of tea. She thought it better to take them both than miss her blood pressure medication.
Hunger gnawed at her. There wasn’t much in her refrigerator, but she did find a Styrofoam container filled with a soupy concoction of chicken and rice. She spoke aloud. “Meals on Wheels. Some of that stuff they send is not fit to eat. I used to be such a good cook. I wish I could still cook.”
She shoved the container back inside the refrigerator and went to her pantry.
Peanut butter and crackers would be her meal. She shuffled boxes of cookies and instant oatmeal around, but could not locate the peanut butter. Didn’t she buy some just a few days ago? Finally she gave up and ate the crackers plain.
Naomi’s muscles ached with weariness. She decided to go to bed. Her nightgown was in the drawer where it was supposed to be. She was relieved. This little victory made her feel like pampering herself, so she went to draw a bath.
She stood staring at the faucet for a moment, trying to remember how to work it. Her gnarled fingers fumbled across the knobs, pulling, then pushing, then twisting, until water poured out.
A persistent ringing captured her attention. When she picked up the phone, her son’s voice comforted her. At last she was sure the day was Sunday, because he always called on Sunday. He asked the usual things, and told her stories about his work. His laughter was contagious.
Naomi wasn’t sure what made her look down the hall. A slow stream of water was snaking its way out the bathroom door and onto the carpet. What was happening? A pinpoint of memory jetted through her mind. There was something she should know; something about a bath. She bit her lip and let the tears flow, again.
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