The phone wakes me up. Again. I’ve been dozing on and off - it’s a quiet night at Live Oaks Assisted Living. My nursing shift doesn’t end until 5:00 am, but night duties are normally scant. Since 11:00 pm when Mr. Robbins at 304 finally surrendered to the triazepam and fell asleep, silence has reigned. Except for the phone in 315, ringing insistently every half hour or so.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Anna crouches at the top of the staircase; afraid of the darkness of the bedroom, she seeks solace in the light filtering in from below, where her parents sit in the dining room’s dim light. Their soft murmurs waft up to her, soothing, making her drowsy. Most nights she almost sleepwalks back into bed. But tonight she hears something that rouses her.
-“When should we tell them?” Her mother is asking.
-“I’m not sure we should tell them at all,” her father replies, his voice low.
-“Anshel, we must. Soon they’ll know something is happening, they’ll start asking questions. They might tell someone,” her mother ends in a whisper.
A surprise for us! Anna is wide awake now, little hands grasping the wooden banister. She loves surprises.
-“You’re right,” he sounds tired. “But, Dara, let’s wait until we’re ready. Once we have confirmation on the ship, at least. We can tell them the night we leave; there won’t be time for them to tell anyone.”
The boy and the dog hunker under the shrubbery. Dim green light dapples the boy’s reddish hair, the matching coat of the setter panting next to him. The boy’s arm is around the dog; the dog doesn’t need the restraint, but the boy needs the warmth, the sense of complicity.
The green light catches a welt on the side of the boy’s face. His grandfather’s hands are big, heavy. The boy doesn’t mind pain, but the hurt in Ma’s eyes as she watches bothers him. He knows she can’t stop it; it’s for his own good. He doesn’t blame Granddad either; the big man loves him, he knows that too. It’s Aunt Gerda he blames. The wily bitch.
Her eyelids flickered open; something had woken her, but she didn’t know what. It was dark, quiet; as her eyes gradually adjusted to the faint light filtering through sheer curtains, she saw the unfamiliar shadows of a large bedroom. The bedsheets felt thick, expensive; unlike anything people in her circle, fresh out of college and struggling with new careers, would have. The pillow where her head rested teased her memory with tendrils of… something, and for some reason that scared her wide awake. Something was lurking at the edges of her consciousness; had she been dreaming? She didn’t know why she should be so afraid, but her heart pounded. There was something about the entire setting that was giving her a macabre sense of deja-vu.