Tag Archives: loneliness

Old Habits

800px-Fat_cat_sleepingBeatrice heard her stiff joints crackle as she stood up from bed and began to creep across the hardwood floor, its chill not helping the arthritis in her feet. Those old limbs didn’t work near as well as they used to but carried her body across the short distances she needed.

She walked into the living room where she’d sat at opposite ends of the couch from her late husband in virtual silence for the last several years before he finally went home to meet his maker a month prior. How many times had she stared at his unfortunate face from that distance while he loudly solved the puzzle on that t.v. game show he obsessively watched? “Stupid bastard,” the woman mumbled to herself, thinking of Vaughn. “He was never any good at the bonus round either.” Thoughts of him brought bad memories and bile backed up in her throat. It was too early in the morning for such ugly thoughts.

Vaughn hadn’t always been such a schmuck. Some quality besides his hubris and those blue eyes must have originally attracted her to the man. His charm drew her in, but that charisma quickly morphed into plain conceit. A baby soon on the way meant she stayed with her husband and tried the make the best of things. “You’ve got someone to worry with besides yourself now, girl,” her mother told her. Bea knew it was the truth.

Little Leon loved his daddy, and Vaughn likewise doted on him. It was enough to keep Beatrice in the marriage, but her husband paid more attention to the television than he did her. He certainly spent more time at the office than home but more so for the company of his pretty blond co-worker than any task their boss assigned. Vaughn’s hinky actions became easy to read, and Beatrice wasn’t stupid. Heeding Momma’s advice, though, she stayed for the duration.

By the time Vaughn retired, their son was long gone. Leon had his own aspirations, and Beatrice wanted him to live the way she’d wished for herself – to travel, see the Eiffel Tower or those pyramids over in Egypt – to go somewhere besides here. She wondered if she’d stayed with Vaughn just to spite the man or if they simply shared the bad habit of one another.

A thick strand of her once jet black hair fell in front of her eye. It was now coarse and the color of steel but still accented her startling green eyes. Vaughn called them bewitching and once said she’d vexed him. She never believed that to be the case. Instead, truly the opposite. He’d tricked her with his charming ways and made her fall as much in love with him as he was with himself. “That narcissist probably took a hand mirror with him to his coffin,” she reported out loud to nobody in particular.

A big tabby cat was the only one there to listen, and it languished across the armchair, paying her only the slightest attention. “Ya probably learned those ways from him,” she told the feline. “Ya preen yourself all day long, and lay there pretending like ya don’t hear a word I say. Both a ya considered yourselves the center of the universe.” The old cat paid her no mind and closed the one eye it opened only to verify someone else’s presence in the room. It barely noticed Vaughn’s absence either.

“That’s okay,” she said. “Just ignore me. I’m used to it.” Beatrice sniffed derisively and looked out the window. The street view from the sofa where she usually sat pleased her. “I’ll perch right here, thank ya very much.” She half-heartedly chuckled. She normally amused herself that way, wouldn’t depend on anyone else to do it for her, even if it meant watching the world go by from the living room’s confines.

A satisfied smile crossed her wrinkled face, the skin soft but creased from years of sour expressions settling in on it. Hers wasn’t an unhappy existence. She finally had what she wanted — a quiet, peaceful life. She didn’t even have to compete with the television any more to get it.

*writing prompt “hubris/conceit” from Studio 30+ Studio30 (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

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Time Moves On

via Flickr

via Flickr

She couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen the stars. All the streetlights here dimmed them and limited her view of the beautiful night sky. This is what Dana wanted when she moved to the city, to get away from any semblance of that old small-town existence.

Now she only wished to be back home again.

The move came from a hard decision to buckle down and take a lower-paying job in the city. A means to an end — poverty would be temporary. She knew the only way to break through the glass ceiling came by finishing her degree. No supervisor could overlook her for a promotion again.

Dana swallowed her fear and told herself it wouldn’t matter that she knew no one there. A fresh start will do you good, she thought.

Being invisible among thousands of people did a number on her confidence, and life became too impersonal. She faded into the background. People are too busy to meet a stranger, too suspicious to take a chance on someone they don’t already know.

She quickly realized it was every woman for herself at school. A large university is no place for an intimidated non-traditional student to make new friends. She took it for granted she’d meet like-minded individuals but quickly realized she’d have to make her own way. No one else offered to show her the world, so she started her own search.

She tried online dating, followed all the cautionary measures to meet in a public place and tell someone where you’d go. Safety first and all that. Most importantly to not set her expectations too high. She encountered socially anxious but nice nerds and perverts who breathed heavily on her voicemail or expected sex as payment for company.

Fate cast the next blow when she met a friend of an acquaintance at a club. First vouched for as a “good guy,” the classmate knew nothing of his criminal record since they’d last seen each other. Dana fell for him too quickly, as she was wont to do, and ignored the red flags that otherwise warned her. A nasty amphetamine habit spurred his compulsive lying. The last of his looks and charm the meth hadn’t destroyed, unfortunately, salvaged his believability. He not only took her credit card and apartment key but some of her dignity as well.

Being young, naïve and too trusting, it came as a revelation to learn she could no longer take people at face value. Disillusioned and emotionally bruised, she sat on her balcony awaiting the onset of the new millennium. Gunshots sounded in the distance — the urban version of celebratory fireworks — while feelings imploded within her.

The rest of the world feared the end was near if computers couldn’t transition to 2000, that time would stop if the digits didn’t reset. They were wrong.

She made a mistake moving here.

Hope brought her, but loneliness found her instead. Gazing out at the sky, Dana searched for those imperceptible stars. She looked down at the concrete below and imagined falling off her balcony, landing in a fatal splat on the sideway, and no one claiming her body. Her family might never know if something like that happened. Maybe no one would care.

She imagined someone at the city morgue finally discovering her identity and sending her back home.

***

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Desperate Measures

forsale2

Uncle Frank died just after Christmas time, which left Aunt Dot all alone in the world. Her kids, all grown, moved away long before. They had their own lives to lead several states away from their home place. Things began to look grim for Dot.

She spent more time in her recliner, its arms threadbare and frayed, and watched the world go by her window. The chair’s green fabric stuck up in spikes from her nervously picking at it and almost looked like it might prick her skin. One day moved into the next without her noticing a change.

Dot’s health quickly deteriorated. Her diabetes went unchecked and blood sugar level skyrocketed. She figured without much left in life to live for, why not enjoy all the candy and sweets she could get her hands on — one small pleasure she had left.

Before long, Dot could only leave the house on a Hoveround. Medicare paid for the luxury item, since feet are usually the first to go from diabetes complications. So the lonely woman putted down the street to the Quickimart in her motorized wheelchair for a quick fix of Lemonheads and chocolate turtles. Doc Morton warned against it, but Dot went with her impulses.

No one was busting her door down to visit, and her loneliness became unbearable. To avoid growing bitter and resentful, she self-medicated with sugar. The EBT card masqueraded the shame of using food stamps since she no longer benefited from Frank’s Social Security income. Times got tight, and she had trouble making ends meet. The little things kept her going. Afternoons with Dr. Phil seemed to go by quicker when fueled with Coke Zero and M&Ms.

The neighbors got suspicious of her circumstances when they saw a hand-painted sign in front of Dot’s house. The woman began to sell off her possessions one-by-one.

Her kids never came to visit, so they didn’t suspect the precariousness of poor Dot’s situation. First it was the appliances. Cooking for one cut down on usual necessities, so she just used an old beer cooler, a toaster oven, and an electric skillet. She could reach everything from her scooter seat anyway.

Even Frank’s treasures had a price. Dot sobbed when the man backed his trailer into the driveway to retrieve the 16′ Tracker from which they’d caught many a striped bass on memorable fishing jaunts before he passed.

Her beloved transportation went last. With the loss it, Aunt Dot paid the boy next door to make the trip to the store for her candy. She bartered with fresh baked cookies when he mowed her lawn. At least until she sold the oven.

Then he accepted licorice as payment instead. Too bad he didn’t stay a spell afterward to talk.

***

 Tara’s photo (above) prompted the writing this week at Studio 30+ Studio30

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Shoo Fly

Wiechert-Visser creative commons

She realized early on her new marriage wasn’t all she hoped it would be. People fall into routines, and life goes takes on a new rhythm following the honeymoon’s afterglow, but she was crestfallen to discover how different her husband was once the newness became old hat.

Granted, they married later than most couples, in their 30s. She had cast his first marriage out of her mind and attributed that divorce to youth and ignorance, but now she was feeling what the first woman probably experienced long before she fell into the same rut. The old saying about people being “stuck in their ways” was too obviously true.

Her husband simply checked out. They rarely talked, didn’t hang out together, and never went on dates. It was if she didn’t exist. His face was stuck in a screen – either the computer’s or his smart phone’s – but never looking at her.

He was still there, but it was if he had just evaporated. His mind was elsewhere, maybe at work or perhaps on another woman. Broaching the subject did no good, as he brushed off her questions like a bothersome fly buzzing in his ear.

She grieved for their lost love but swore she wouldn’t let herself become inconsequential. The spark was gone, and she had to accept it. She scraped what was left of her dignity off the floor and made plans to leave.

Few of their scant furnishings belonged to her, so she had little to pack. Sadly, there was more left in the house than in their marriage when she walked out the door. Sniffing back a tear before pulling out of the driveway, she wondered if her husband might miss her.

He was meanwhile engrossed in something on the computer, as usual, and didn’t see her leave. Maybe he’d notice when a text from the phone company informed him she hadn’t paid the bill.

– photo Wiechert-Visser Creative Commons Studio30

*Studio 30+ prompt “…he had just evaporated…” from the original post He Confessed Everything.

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Changes

We might be going for a ride later. The driver said he’s taking us to Denver this time. I hope we’re back for dinner, though, because those other people start heading to the dining room about 5 o’clock.  I need to be at my table.

We had a good piano player last week. He took requests, but I didn’t ask for anything special. My daughter said she’d be by later today. I wonder what time she’ll get here. It’s been days since I’ve seen her.

This is a nice place where I’m working. I help out a lot of the time, and they are pretty good people. It helps that I had so much experience when I lived in the city. They really need the help with so many people here.

I remember when I used to live in the city and had all my things there with me. My husband worked a lot. He was a good man, gave us all a home, took care of us. The kids were always well-fed, loved, and we taught them to be respectful. They miss their father a lot. He’s buried back home.

It’s almost time to go to Kansas City now. There sure are a lot of places to go shopping there.  My daughter and I went just last week. We picked up so many nice things. But I had to come back here, you know. There’s so much to be done.

beneath weeping willow

courtesy: Elsie esq on Flickr

I miss living back home, but things have changed. Maybe I’ll get used to it. We have plenty to eat, and I watch my programs, look at my newspaper. Folks say it will be all right. It’s like the weeping willow – you can stretch and bend, just like the willow’s branches, but be flexible so you don’t break. It won’t break me.

Yesterday I was sort of tired and took a nap before I went to get my hair done. It’s much easier to take care of now. There was nothing on television, so I slept for awhile. I was waiting for my daughter to come. She was here to see me the day before. My son says he’ll be by sometime. We are going to go back to the city, back home. We’ll return before dark, though. I don’t like to drive at night.

The lady in the next room is friendly. She says ‘hello’ when I walk by on my way up to eat. Sometimes I help her. There’s a lot to be done.

(This is an imagined inner monologue of a loved one who is trying to accept the changes in her life upon moving into nursing care.  I often wonder how confusing it must be, considering her dementia, to wake up every day in an unfamiliar environment. I vow to not watch the end of my life go by while lying in a bed.) 

Studio 30+

Another great writing prompt (weeping willow) inspired this post. Check out Studio 30 Plus if you’re a writer who wants to participate.

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