margaret by typical quirk

25 Jan

Margaret narrowed her eyes and stared at the spider on the ceiling. She tried to prop herself up in the hospital bed that was placed in the living room of the old, creaky farmhouse. She had arthritis and emphysema along with all of the treats that come along with old age.

Margaret had watery blue eyes and shirt white hair. She looked very small in the hospital bed. Home care nurses were staffed in her house six and a half days a week. The other half day, Sunday mornings, her son Michael looked after her.

Michael wore gold jewelery and had a penchant for pot. He did his best to look after his mother, but they had never been particularly close. This particular Sunday, Michael stepped out to pick up his weekly supply. He usually picked it up later in the day, but his dealer was leaving for Mexico shortly.

Margaret had not been by herself for years. At first, she felt a sense of relief. Silence. Freedom. Then she saw it. The big, hairy spider on the ceiling above her. She shivered. It was nearly impossible for her to get out of bed on her own. She started sweating. Her breathing became more rapid. She wondered when Michael would return.

Forty-five minutes later, Margaret was red from the anxiety. She imagined the spider falling down on her. She kept her mouth tightly closed. Her heart was racing.

An hour later, she could take it no longer. She looked up at the creature and shuddered. She looked over at the broom in the corner about 10 feet away. She could do this. No big deal. She hadn’t been out of bed unassisted in a year, but it wasn’t like she was trying to run a marathon. Just brush the spider off the ceiling and out side.

Margaret took a deep breath. She propped herself up. This was a good start. She slowly lifted her legs over the side of the bed like she did when a nurse was there to help her. But no one was there to help her now. This she had to do on her own. It was starting to seem more like a marathon. Margaret tentatively grabbed onto the padded chair next to the bed. Burning. Her arthritic fingers were absolutely burning. At least she was doing something. She tried to hoist herself up. And she fell. Hard. No matter. Margaret was a stubborn old bat and she was stronger than this spider.

It took Margaret ten minutes to crawl over to the corner where the broom was. Where the hell was Michael? Margaret reached the broom. Now what? How was she going to get up? She tried to balance on the broom. Not a chance. Then she tried to just will herself up. Again nothing. She looked up. The spider looked back at her menacingly. Margaret broke down. She started to cry. She balled herself up in the corner opposite the door. Bawling and shivering. For two more hours, Margaret stayed there until the scheduled nurse Mindy showed up. Mindy was a perky young woman. This was her first gig as a nurse. She was shocked when she saw Margaret on the floor.

Mindy rushed over to Margaret, who had fallen asleep. Mindy gently said “Margaret. It’s Mindy. Wake up! What on earth are you doing on the floor?”

Margaret woke up and looked at Mindy. “See, look up there. There is a spider on the ceiling. I was trying to get it down.” Margaret started to cry again and Mindy took her in her arms.

Mindy looked up, but there was nothing on the ceiling.

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4 Responses to “margaret by typical quirk”

  1. ingridfnl January 25, 2010 at 11:50 am #

    This is so vivid. Her feelings of helplessness and grief really touched me. Thank you. I think that there are many aged people who feel this…

  2. jadamthwaite January 25, 2010 at 10:10 pm #

    Oh, I think this is the saddest Margaret. I think you really caught her loneliness in this story. And I really like the ambiguity about whether there really had been a spider or not.

  3. Madonna Paradis January 28, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    Mindy knew that she had to help Margaret out and though she was not sure how she could help she did remember the portion of her training that dealt with the mental health of patients. She pretended she too saw the spider and taking the broom in hand swatted the ceiling where Margaret said the spider was. Mindy said ” Now Margaret the spider is gone I will take the broom out and shake it to make sure he is gone. Let me help you into bed. I am soo sorry you have been left alone and I think someone should speak to your son about responsibility. He should not leave you alone again.” Margaret was sad for a moment as she did not want her son to get into trouble and so she told a little white lie. ” I asked him to go to the store for me. He must have had a hard time finding what I asked him to purchase for me. He is a good son and I do not want him to be scolded”. Mindy shook her head and tried to console Margaret. I won’t tell anyone but him but he should be told . Margaret agreed and the day continued in its normal manner.

  4. phoenix.writing January 30, 2010 at 10:03 pm #

    This was so sad. I’m glad it seems as though Margaret wasn’t badly injured by her fall. You achieved such an interesting mixture of determination and impotence.

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