10/14/10: Way to shame me into updating again by commenting, people who comment! (Seriously, though, hi, welcome, and pull up one of the splintery old orange crates that we use for seating 'round these parts seein' as we can't afford no fancy chairs.)

The rules from
here still apply.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Slow to Adapt

He reached out one gnarled hand to fiddle with the television. "Now, let's watch some TV, hmm? I think Happy Days is on." He grabbed for the knob, and seemed surprised to find instead a row of sleek buttons. "You like Happy Days. Why won't the channel change?" He burst into tears.

"Okay, Mr. Dalton, okay," the nurse said soothingly, taking his arm and gently leading him back to his bed. "It's all right. I can change the channel if you like."

Wyatt raised one withered old arm to scrub at his eyes before lying down. "All right. At least I got that damned VCR clock fixed."

"I know, Mr. Dalton." The nurse pulled his blanket up over him.

"I wanted to tell Sara. Where's Sara?" He looked panicked. "Sara?!"

The nurse took his shoulders as he started to rise. "She'll be here soon, Mr. Dalton. Just rest for now."

"She'd better get here soon," Wyatt grumbled, though he allowed himself to be put back to bed. "She's going to miss Happy Days."

The nurse smiled at him, patted the cover over his spindly chest, and let herself quietly out of the room. As soon as the door clicked shut behind her, she slumped.

"Wyatt giving you trouble?" asked one of the other nurses as he passed.

"No, it's okay." Wyatt's nurse put a hand to her head briefly. "Just my first day on the job. He's kind of... draining."

The other nurse nodded sympathetically. "You'll get used to it, a little. If that's any consolation."

Wyatt's nurse uttered a humorless little laugh. "Not really."


She grabbed a cup of coffee from the lounge, then headed back to Wyatt's room. He had moved back to the TV, and was doing something to the VCR again.

"Look, Sara! I figured out the clock on the..." He turned to her, and his face fell. "Sara?" he added doubtfully.

"She's not here," the nurse said gently. "Why don't we get you back in bed, Mr -- "

"I don't want to go to bed!" Wyatt snapped. "I'm tired of bed! And I want Sara!"

The nurse tried to smile again. "She'll be here soon, Mr. Dalton. And if you don't want to rest, why don't we watch TV?"

"All right," Wyatt replied, reaching once more for a nonexistent knob on the television. The nurse quickly stopped him before he could get upset again, then picked up the remote and began flicking through the channels.

"No, no," Wyatt muttered irritably. "None of these shows are any good. Bunch of junk. Is Happy Days on?"

"I don't think so," the nurse replied doubtfully.


She left the TV on some nature show; Wyatt was still sulking, but she preferred that to more tears. Or more questions about--

"Where's Sara?" Wyatt asked suddenly.

The nurse sighed. "She's not here, Mr. Dalton."

"I can see that. I'm not stupid." He glared at her from watery eyes. "But where is she?"

She's dead, the nurse thought to herself. She's been dead for three years, and they stopped telling you that because they couldn't bear to keep breaking your heart. Your wife's dead, you don't remember because you have Alzheimer's disease, and you're rotting away what's left of your life in a second-rate nursing home. "She's just stepped out, Mr. Dalton. She'll be back soon."

Wyatt smiled. "Good. She wouldn't want to miss Happy Days." His eyes lit up. "And maybe I can get the VCR clock set before she gets back, too. She's been on me about that for ages."

1 comment:

Ix said...

I know I'm very late to the party on this, but I've been enjoying reading through your archives, these little stories are really effective.

Mainly though I'm commenting because I just read this post and it honest to god made me cry. It hits very close to home in that a similar thing happened to my grandfather; you communicate the despair of the situation perfectly.