The glass door doesn’t open. I push harder. It must be locked. My hands sweat at the thought of being late again. The kids are waiting for me. Who will teach them?
What is buzzing? Is it a fire alarm? A bomb scare? Killer mosquitoes? A man I’ve never met before calls my name:
“Margaret, please move away from the door. You’re setting off the alarm.”
“Me? Why would I do that? I’m just trying to go . . . how do you know my name?”
“I’m Louis, the security guard, here at Seaview. You’ve known me for ten years.”
“I don’t think so. I never forget a face.”
“Where were you trying to go?” He asks me while holding something that looks like a fancy calculator to his ear.
“Listen, maybe you can help me. I think a taxi dropped me off here by mistake. I’m supposed to be teaching a third grade class at Westfield Christian Elementary. Now I’m late and that darn buzzer is giving me a headache.”
“How can I help you?”
“Get me out of here, of course!”
“But this is your home. You have nurses to help and meals served so you don’t have to cook.”
“Hey, I’m a great cook. I invented apple pie.”
“I’m sure you are. Now why don’t you go up the elevator back to your room?”
“Okay, then. . . I’ll see you later, after school.” I wave to the nice man and push the door.
“Landsakes! Will someone please stop that blasted buzzer?”
“Margaret, have a seat over here. You can watch the fish tank while you wait for your daughter. The nurse said she’ll be here soon to visit.”
“Alright. My legs are getting tired anyway. I need to get some new penny-loafers. And my girdle is too tight.”
I watch the fish. The little yellow striped one darts in and out of a plastic castle, his new home. Why did that man say this is my home? That’s not my painting of lilies. And who picked out these plastic plants? I know I didn’t. I think I have a garden bordered with sunflowers. Cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant. . .
I think I’ll leave now.
“Margaret, look who’s here!”
“Who is it?” A pretty woman with strawberry blond hair and dangling star earrings smiles at me. She opens her arms wide like she’s going to swallow me whole. “Help! Help me!”
“Shh. . . it’s okay, Mom. It’s me, Angie, your youngest daughter.”
“Oh. I’m sorry, dear. You look different today. Maybe your hair?”
“I’ve had the same hair color for years.”
“Oh, it’s very pretty.”
“Thanks. Let’s go sit on the patio and get some fresh air.”
As we walk outside, I try to remember her last visit. Nothing.
“Look at these sunflowers—dancing in the breeze for us! They’re taller than you. Do you remember at six years-old you surprised me on Mother’s Day with a bouquet of sunflowers?”
“Yah, I cut down every last flower in your garden.”
“I had to hug you, smiling with those dimpled cheeks. And another time you thought you’d help me garden by picking the tomatoes—a bowl full of pea-size tomatoes.”
“You never yelled.”
“You were so helpful and adorable, how could I stay mad at you?”
Angie smiles and wipes her eyes with one of my old handkerchiefs.
“Why are you crying, dear?”
“I can’t believe you can think of stories from forty years ago, remembering every detail, yet in one minute you’ll forget my name and that I come to visit you everyday.”
“You know Jesus, right?”
“Yes, because of you.”
“Well, He promised me I’d get a new body and mind someday. Then I’ll remember everything. But now I need to go inside; I’m chilly.”
The pretty woman with the strawberry blond hair kisses my forehead and walks through the open door. I think tomorrow I’ll buy some sunflowers.
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