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“Mary, you have a visitor.”

I open my eyes and see the fat nurse who woke me up this morning standing in front of me, smiling. I don’t remember what happened to me or how long I have been here. I woke up today in an unfamiliar room, but somehow my posessions and clothes were neatly laid out for me. It’s a hospital or something, because they told me I’m sick and am going to be here until I get better. And I have to get around in a wheelchair. But they’re not telling me how long I’ll be here. Nobody seems to know, and nobody answers my questions. It’s like they can’t hear me.


I don’t feel sick. I’m only thirty years old for Christ’s sake. I’ve been healthy my whole life, and never even got so much as a pinprick from my work as a seamstress. I keep demanding to speak to a doctor, but everyone who works here just pats my shoulder and smiles at me. They give me pills every few hours, but I refuse to take them. They end up forcing me to take them. What if the pills they’re giving me are making me sick? Everyone here is old and depressed looking. Why am I here? These people are almost ready to die. I have at least half of my life ahead of me. Unless I have some disease or cancer, and this is where they decided to put me until I die. That doesn’t make sense either though, because I feel completely healthy.


The nurse tells me my visitor is in the community room, and she unlocks the wheels of my wheelchair and rolls me down the hallway. There’s an old man in a wheelchair in the hallway with a stuffed animal on his lap, talking to it like it’s his pet. Is this a lunatic asylum? Are the pills supposed to make me sane? A man at least fifty years old is there waiting in the community room. He sees me, and gives me a hug. “Mary, it’s Ralph, remember me?” He asks, smiling cautiously, waiting for a response.


“I’ve never seen you before in my life!” I yell at him. “Tell me what’s going on here!”


The man who calls himself Ralph looks at the nurse, unsure of what to do, pretending not to hear me like everyone else. She tells him to just try reading to me.


“Mary, I brought A Tale of Two Cities. I’ll read a chapter to you.” He sits down on an armchair and starts to read aloud. Who is this man, and how did he know my favorite book? Has he been spying on me? None of this makes sense and I’m terrified. After he reads a chapter or two, the nurse comes back and it’s time for more of those damn pills.


I put up a good struggle with the nurse, and end up knocking the pills out of her hand. They scatter on the drab carpet, and the nurse hurries away, probably to get more. Ralph takes me back to my room here. He sits on the chair in my room, his head in his hands.


The nurse comes back in, but her hands are empty. Good. That bitch should know not to try to force me to swallow any pills now. I’m suddenly tired and begin to doze off in my wheelchair. I can hear bits of conversation between the nurse and Ralph, but none of it makes sense and I don’t care anymore.


“Diane, did her doctor say anything about why she’s been so agitated recently?” Ralph’s voice cuts into my slumber.


“He thinks her condition is getting worse. Since she lost her ability to communicate, that may be frustrating her. She may not even recognize you anymore, but we can’t know for sure because she can’t speak. A lot of our patients get anxious around late afternoon, so this could be normal as well.”


I perk up a little bit at the talk of what’s wrong with me, but pretend to be asleep so they’ll keep talking about it. Inability to communicate? That’s a lie, everyone here just refuses to listen to me. The nurse is lying to this man, but I don’t even know him so what does it matter to try to tell him that? I don’t trust either of them.


“I just wish they could find a cure for it.”


“I know Ralph, it must be very hard for you to see her like this.”


The man laughs a little bit. “I was going to bring the kids to visit next weekend, but I don’t want them to see her like this. Maybe if things settle down a little bit I will.”


“We will of course, keep you informed of any new information the
doctor may tell us.” I start to doze off again as it seems they’re done talking about my “condition.”

The last thing I hear is the nurse tell the man, “I know it’s hard to have a parent with Alzheimer’s, but your mother is doing remarkably well for a woman of ninety years old.”

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