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Enjoy the fourth installment of Lynda Simmons' flast fiction work she is sharing on her virtual book tour.
The More Things Change
(With Dr. Martin)
“What time is it?” my favourite nurse asks, checking his watch against the clock on my dash.
“Eight fifty-two.” I give him a smile. “Don’t worry, you’re not going to be late.”
“Dream on,” he says, and flips up his hood, sets his backpack on his lap. “Can’t you drive any faster?”
“The wipers are barely keeping up with the snow as it is, so no, I can’t drive any faster.”
“Says the doctor with nothing to lose.”
Point for the nurse. As the physician for Willow Tree Long Term Care, no one is going to write me up for tardiness. Dylan, on the other hand, already has two late strikes against him. A third will not go down well with the Director and there is only so much I can do without drawing undue attention. While the other infractions are his own fault, this morning is on me because I forgot to set the alarm.
“You’re still angry with me aren’t you,” I say.
“Anger has nothing to do with it.” He turns away and stares out the side window. “But it would be great if you’d stop smiling for five minutes.”
I feel the grin stretch wider across my face. “I would if I could, but I can’t. Not when I had the best sleep in months. Without benefit of sleeping aids, I might add.“
Dylan glances over at me. “Are you going to fill me in on the joys of a good bowel movement next?“ I roll my eyes and he turns back to the window. “Good, because then I might realize how old you really are.”
“Heaven forbid,” I gasp, but he’s up another point.
I have reached the age where a good night’s sleep makes me feel more alive than sex. And we both know it won’t be much longer before my young marathon man finds someone who can keep up with him on more than the road. But for now he’s here, I slept like a log, and I can’t remember the last time I felt this refreshed, this light-hearted and – dare I say – happy. Surely it’s an omen of good things to come, of normal life returned, hallelujah. And all because Edna Halliday is gone.
Ding, dong the witch is dead.
The tune is in my head, the words on the tip of my tongue but I’m not foolish enough to open my mouth and let either escape. Dylan is sweet, but I’ve seen that old adage about loose lips sinking ships in action, and my personal ship needs to sail for a few years yet.
Lord knows, I tried to take Edna in stride, but how much abuse is one person supposed to absorb? It was a form of bullying, day in and day out, and I was the victim. But you can’t point a finger at an old woman with dementia and say she’s picking on you, now can you. So you suck it up and soldier on. Try to explain to families and colleagues that she’s substituted you for some figure in her past and pay no attention to anything she says. But every time she hollers, I know who you are, they look at you funny and you can see the wheels turning.
But all of that is over now. She’s gone, the snow has stopped and I will score my own points with Dylan tonight.
I pull into my parking spot and he throws open the door.
“See you later?” I ask as he climbs out.
He looks back at me and nods before trotting off to the door on the other side of the building.
Not a declaration of love, but a start. And the fact that he’ll be five minutes early can’t hurt.
Overhead, patches of blue are stretching out, reaching for each other, determined to overcome the cloud. I can’t help smiling again as I fetch my briefcase from the back. Clear sailing ahead, I can feel it.
At the main entrance, I key in the code and give the door a push. The lobby is hot, the air thick with the smells of bacon, eggs and disinfectant. I pause to undo my coat and stomp the snow from my feet when without warning it starts all over again.
“Who died and made you king,” someone hollers.
I freeze. What the hell?
“I know you.”
The words might have been Edna Halliday’s but that voice belongs to Grace.
“I know who you are!” she shouts.
A passing nurse pauses, a cleaning lady stares. I wave them back to work and slowly turn toward the lobby. Sure enough, Grace is seated in Edna’s spot, watching me.
“I know who you are,” she snarls.
Does she realize what she’s doing? Is this a moment of clarity, a show of solidarity with Edna?
Lucid moments can be like that. Opening a window that had seemed nailed shut just long enough to raise the hair on your arms.
“Who died,” she starts again and I lower my head, strike out along the hall, heading straight for my office. But the voice doesn’t grow fainter. If anything, it grows louder.
“I know you.”
I glance back. Grace is following me, moving as fast as she can and hollering louder, “I know you!”
I keep my eyes down, avoiding the curious glances from staff and families. Intent only on making it to my office, my desk, things that make sense. Once inside, I close the door and lock it. Jump when her fist hits the frame and reach for my phone. A nurse will come and get her. Perhaps Dylan. Hopefully Dylan.
My hand shakes as I punch in the numbers. I force myself to calm, to take a breath.
The line is answered after three rings. “This is Dr. Martin,” I say. “I need your help again.“
If this is your first time reading Lynda's flash fiction, please read the earlier episodes here: Lynda's Facebook page.
Sometimes all love needs is a road trip, a rubber chicken and a touch of magic
Vicky Ferguson loves her husband Reid, always has, always will. But with two kids to think about, it’s time for the free-wheeling, sports car loving pilot to put his feet on the ground and lay down some roots. Reid can’t imagine life without Vicky but neither can he see himself pushing a lawn mower or driving a mini-van. They’re on track to a divorce neither one wants until a last request from beloved Uncle Albert puts them on the road together one last time.
Enjoy an excerpt:
“Which brings us to the issue at hand,” the lawyer said and opened a file. “I have here the last will and testament of Albert Ferguson. Handwritten but perfectly legal.” He leaned down and picked up Albert’s old leather suitcase. It was the only thing the old man ever carried – the true master of travelling light. Lyle set the case on the desk, undid the straps and slid back the zipper. Reached inside and came up with a pair of Groucho Marx glasses, complete with bulbous pink nose, bushy eyebrows, and a formidable mustache.
Reid sat forward. “Not the glasses,” he said, a smile already tugging at his lips.
Lyle nodded solemnly and put them on, carefully adjusting the nose over his own before picking up the paper again. The lawyer’s delivery was perfectly straight, if a bit nasal. “I, Albert John Ferguson, being of sound mind and body— ”
Reid glanced over at Vicky. She was staring at the lawyer, eyes wide, lips pinched tightly together, holding back her laughter.
“Do hereby bequeath all my worldly goods to my favorite nephew and niece, Reid Allan Ferguson and Victoria Ann Ferguson, to be used as they see fit. This includes one hand buzzer, one whoopee cushion, one pair of Groucho glasses.” He reached into the suitcase again. “One rubber chicken –”
“I’ll take that.” Vicky’s face turned pink when the lawyer paused and looked at her over the nose of the glasses. “For the kids,” she added, and turned to Reid. “Unless you want it.”
“Not at all.” He pointed to the suitcase. “But I’ve got dibs on the fl y-in-the-ice-cube.”
“One fly-in-the-ice-cube,” Lyle continued, and set it in front of Reid. “One can of worms—”
“Snakes,” Reid cut in. “They’re snakes.”
The lawyer slid the can toward him and Reid popped the lid. Three long colorful snakes sprang from the tin and flew over the desk, squeaking as they bounced against the walls. “They were always his favorite.” Reid smiled at Vicky. “Do you mind if I take them?”
She held up the whoopee cushion. “Not as long as I can have this,” she said, and Reid understood why Albert had loved her, too.
“You can go through the rest on your own later,” Lyle said, taking off the glasses and setting them aside. “But in return for his worldly goods, Albert has a favor to ask.”
Reid raised his head. “A favor?”
“More of a decree really.” Lyle cleared his throat and resumed reading from the will. “In return for my worldly goods, Reid and Vicky must promise to take my remains to Seaport, Oregon. ”
The chicken’s head bobbed as she sat up straighter. “But I thought he’d already been buried.”
“Not quite.” Lyle lifted a plain white shoebox out of the suitcase and set it on the desk in front of them. “He’s been waiting for you.”
Reid stared at the box. “That’s Albert?”
“Ashes to ashes.” The lawyer picked up the box. “I know it’s not much to look at, but it’s practical, sturdy, and holds up to five pounds of loved one, no problem.” He looked from Reid to Vicky. “The point is Albert didn’t want a fancy urn because he wasn’t planning to spend much time in it anyway.”
Reid shook his head. “I don’t understand.”
Lyle smiled. “Your Uncle Albert wants to fly one last time.”
About the Author:Lynda Simmons is a writer by day, college instructor by night and a late sleeper on weekends. She grew up in Toronto reading Greek mythology, bringing home stray cats and making up stories about bodies in the basement. From an early age, her family knew she would either end up as a writer or the old lady with a hundred cats. As luck would have it, she married a man with allergies so writing it was.
With two daughters to raise, Lynda and her husband moved into a lovely two storey mortgage in Burlington, a small city on the water just outside Toronto. While the girls are grown and gone, Lynda and her husband are still there. And yes, there is a cat - a beautiful, if spoiled, Birman.
When she's not writing or teaching, Lynda gives serious thought to using the treadmill in her basement. Fortunately, she's found that if she waits long enough, something urgent will pop up and save her - like a phone call or an e-mail or a whistling kettle. Or even that cat just looking for a little more attention!
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Lynda-Simmons/e/B001KI3Z4O
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