An elderly woman suffering dementia has a moment of clarity.
|Wanda almost fell backwards when she caught herself in the full length mirror at the end of the vestibule. ' When in God's name did I ever pull together an ensemble so hideous!' she thought to herself, utterly aghast, not even sure if the creature bent with dowager's hump, draped in a magenta terrycloth robe, canary yellow slippers and ONE red sock at the end of the hall was herself at all. Was this some deranged transgendered version of Dorian Grey?
So startled was she by the apparition she had become, that the longer she gaped at the bizarre creature that seemed to have rummaged through Liberace's closet, the greater the wave of fear that overwhelmed her. She could hear her heart pounding in her concave chest, fluttering under her brittle ribs like a sparrow captured in a man's hands.
Five minutes passed before she could drag her eyes off the mean, broken witch that mocked her from its gilded frame in its technicolor rags, another ten before she remembered where the accoutrements to a decent coffee were kept in the kitchen. ' The absurdity of old age! ' she grimly muttered to herself.
Steam rushed from the kettle as Wanda's rheumy eyes surveyed the forlorn garden outside. Ancient eyes that boggled like poached eggs in popped blisters. A reptilian hand, scabbed with age, clasped against her jaw, as she pondered the unkempt lawns and rose bushes left too late for pruning outside the window sill. She mixed herself a strong pot of Arabica and almost exhausted herself carrying it out into the courtyard where she could at least enjoy the bird songs and the fresh breeze blowing across the strait. The sun peeked out over the hedges but Wanda felt invigorated by the warmth on her withered face and momentarily giggled to herself that she was well beyond worrying about wrinkles. She couldn't remember the last time she had laughed at herself, and this thought drew her again to the frightful vintage robe and that wonderful time seeing Liberace at the Country Club with Reg. Oh how she missed Reggie! What a pair they had made in their younger days!
Wanda sipped her coffee in silence, a pair of robins tittered on the bird bath, and she remembered Gloria; was she coming today or had she been yesterday? Wanda resented that her memory was no longer as sharp as it had been, but according to the doctors she was lucky if she had days like this at all. Sometimes she doubted their certainty: she could still smell the varnish on the tressle tables at the Greek Club where she reigned as Bingo Queen for a good 20 years before she got too slow with the marker pens and had to give it up. It infuriated Wanda that time had displaced so many of her little pleasures and deprived her of the claim she had on them. More were slipping away everyday. Good lord, just this morning she awoke with no sense of being where she was at all, the trip to the toilet a humbling shuffle through several rooms in the house before she found it, at which point, she couldn't recall why she'd gone to such effort; it was too late anyway.