Short Stories

The Old Woman… Is Down The Road – A Short Story

The Old Woman…Is Down The Road:

She sits in her dining room chair at the table. The woman is eating dinner. A clock above her head reads 6:00 PM. It is the same time she has eaten for 65 years since she married all those years ago.

The woman is now 85 years old. Her husband passed away a decade ago. She sits alone now like she does every night. The old woman lost her companion and her best friend. She doesn’t leave the house except for groceries or doctors appointments. The problem is she has to rely on others for those things. She’s never had a driver’s license. Now she sits with no one to talk to, no one to listen or gossip with.

The woman listens to talk radio while she eats. She likes to keep up with current events. The recent news does nothing but makes her feel sad. She’s sad when she hears of the wars and the fighting within her own country. She never thought the wars they were fighting years ago would still be going on. The wars have taken away her family members and friends. The grieving has never stopped. The situation always the same. If she wasn’t mourning her own immediate family than she was mourning those she met over the years. The people have come and gone. Most are not around any longer, taken by cancer or other health related issues.

Her worries these days are about her grandchildren. Not only her grandchildren but her great grandchildren.

“What type of future are they going to have?” she asks herself.

It’s Monday evening – the dinner has always been the same. Spaghetti in red sauce with meatballs. She cooks way too much in case someone decided to stop in and visit. The visitors have been scarce these past years since her husband passed. She has one daughter and two sons, but they are always on the go. Too busy in this crazy life to stop and say Hello to their mother. She can’t blame them though. When they visit, the discussions are usually the same things you would talk to a stranger about. Topics like the weather or how their day is going. She can tell in their voices during the visits that they would rather be somewhere else.

It also doesn’t help that she has been awaiting her own passing for years. Since her husband is no longer here, she is contempt with going to the other side. When she talks this way to her family, they get upset. They tell her to stop talking like that.

But in her mind, it is what she has lived her whole life for. To meet her creator and receive her ultimate reward of sitting by his side in the great Kingdom in the sky.

She checks the time after finishing her dinner. The time reads 6:30 PM. She decides to do the dishes. The woman collects her plate and utensils. She gets up from her chair. Everything in her body aches as she rises from her chair. The aching has become second nature to her. It is just one of those things that a woman of her age must endure. The wrath of gravity pulling every limb south for eighty-five years.

She manages to take her dishes to the sink and give them a good cleaning. A look around the rest of the house shows not one thing out of place. With all the time on her hands, her house is immaculate. You wouldn’t find one trace of a dust bunny anywhere inside her home. On the outside, the home is no different. Not a single weed, not a single shrub that isn’t trimmed. A family member usually comes by to cut the grass. She doesn’t have the strength or stamina to push a lawnmower anymore. Not with having arthritis in most places.

She does get as much exercise as she can. The doctor tells her to keep moving when she can. Once she gets past the initial discomfort, the moving around loosens her joints. She can feel a little younger for awhile.

The woman finally gets the dishes put away. Leftovers sealed and placed in the refrigerator. She starts making her way to the living room to relax with some television. On her way, she sees the card still sitting propped up on the kitchen table. It’s a birthday card for her grandson with $100. She gives the same amount every year to all her grandchildren. The card has been sitting there for two weeks now.

She stares at it and starts to feel upset.

“I can’t even entice people with money to come see me. Why am I forsaken to live this life? No one cares about me anymore. If I was to die tonight, no one would notices for days, maybe weeks. I feel like a burden to the ones that mean the most to me.”

The thoughts start to spiral out of control.

“I should rid them of this burden. They are all too busy with their own lives. I am just a nuisance to them. I sit here alone doing the same thing day in and day out. There is no one that would miss me. Sure, they would be sad for awhile but then they would be free. Free of having to come take time out of their days to take care poor old me.”

The woman makes her way to her bedroom. She takes a glance at herself in the mirror. Every wrinkle tells a story – A story of happier times when she lived life to the fullest. Stories of times with her husband. The trips they would take together when their children were young.  Nights out drinking and dancing to some jazz like they were in their own noir film. Feelings of not remaining trapped in a house without human contact. A young and free woman with her companion by her side. All thoughts of old age so far away.

She picks up a photo on her dresser.

The photo shows her and her late husband. It’s a New Years Eve photo from 1961. She smiles as the memories of the party come back to her. It was the first time she ever heard The Beach Boys. The photo shows her husband holding her up in his arms. He’s holding her up by his chest like he is going to carry her over the threshold into their first home. Her husband’s late brother is in the photo as well. He is holding three drinks in his hand. She laughs as she remembers him bitching about holding the glasses so they can take the photo.

There are no wrinkles on her face in this photo. This was just the beginning of their journey as husband and wife. She lifts up the photo and kisses the picture of her husband. The woman then lays it face down next to a container. One of those containers where you plan out your pills for the week. They are all labeled according to time and day of use. A woman of her age can’t be messing up her meds.

She opens the container and inspects the medication.

Only one day is missing – Sunday – they are all filled for the rest of the week. The old woman dumps these on the counter. The pills consist of a cocktail of aspirin, blood-thinners, and an oral diabetes medication. Sitting next to the container is a glass of water. The woman keeps it here for her evening pills.

She picks up the photo to give it one last look. A tear rolls down her cheek. It lands on the young and smiling version of herself in the photo. She makes the sign of the cross on herself as she picks up a handful of meds. Looking at her husband one last time, she thinks of finally getting to see him again. The one person who always wanted to be in her presence. A best friend that never needed a reason to be with her.

“I love you.”, she says to the picture of her husband. “Tonight after all these years without you, we will be together again.”

The woman puts the handful of pills in her mouth. They rest on her tongue like a mouthful of almonds. Her hand is shaking as she picks up the glass. She is ready to leave this place. To flush it all down – to have her family be burden less – to receive her greatest reward after all these years. A chance of reuniting with her lover and meeting her creator.

The glass touches her lips as she makes the sign of the cross one last time. She tilts her head back, her hand still trembling. The water slowly reaches her lips ready to wash down this fatal concoction. This is when she hears her screen door open at the front of her house. Someone is here…

“Gram! You here?” a voice calls out. “Hello? The door was open. I came to see you. My mother told me how upset you were that I haven’t stopped by for my birthday card.”

The woman spits out all the pills onto the floor and rushes out of the bedroom. She makes her way as fast as she can to the kitchen before her grandson can get there. The woman pulls a chair at the kitchen table out and opens a newspaper that was sitting on the table.

Her grandson enters the kitchen with a look of remorse.

“Hey Gram, I’m sorry it took me so long to come see you. Work has been so busy and I have been trying to get projects done at the house. My mother told me how upset you were.”

Her grandson goes over to the side of the table his grandmother is on. He leans down hugs her and gives her a kiss on her cheek.

She looks up at him with the biggest smile on her face and says, “It’s fine sweetie. I know how busy you all are these days. Would you like some spaghetti?”

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