Cold Snap

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Cold Snap

As she awakened from her afternoon nap, she could see the glow of the lit-up dial of the alarm clock even through her closed eyelids. Everything on her body was thinning out. Her hair hung so limply that all she could do was to push it behind her ears and smooth it back from where it formed fuzzy little swirls on her forehead. Her arms sprouted an archipelago of purplish dry torn bruises—new ones every time she knocked up against a door frame or pruned the thunbergia vines. No one ever mentioned these bruises, although her children were perceptive and must have noticed them on those occasions when they stopped by on their way home from work to bring her groceries or to open the damper in the chimney and check that the gas lines had not clogged up over the summer.

Today it was her son who rang her doorbell to check up on her and accept a fast cup of coffee. It was going to be a cold winter, he lectured, so she needed a fire. Did she want him to light it for her? No, she wasn’t cold, but she would do it herself later, she insisted.  For the hundredth time, he lectured her on being careful to make sure the pilot was working every time, then feigned interest in what sparse news she had to impart. She feared her subscription to life had expired along with most of her friends. What new did she have to say about this week’s installment of Mrs. Maisel or even the weather, now that it had turned gray and unchangeable––much like her life?

After ten minutes, he was off to children and wife and supper, and she was glad for this. She kissed him good-bye. A good boy. She had been fortunate in her life. She moved over to the fireplace. It was cold already, she thought, as she  bent over to close the damper and blow out the standing pilot light on the fireplace, then turned on the gas.

Prompt words today are dial, chimney, expired, perceptive and work.

17 thoughts on “Cold Snap

          1. slmret

            Sorry — can’t respond on WP (didn’t bring all my passwords!). I drove to Santa Barbara today, and will be here until January 6. Thanks for asking — patient is tired, healing, and reality is setting in. Surgery was successful, but lymph node was full of Ca, which had also started to spread. Once surgery is healed, they will do some aggressive radiation, and they are looking for a chemo that will not kill him. We will have lots of doctors appts in the next 2 weeks, and his daughter will take care of him when I’m gone (he does a pretty good job of that himself right now, but it may become more difficult as time goes on). In the meantime, we’ll get his business paperwork straightened out for the end of year stuff, and will have a busy but quiet couple of weeks together.

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            1. slmret

              In January 1969, we met in a double date. We’ve been friends off and on since then. A week later there was a major rain storm, flood, and train derailment in which car carriers went over the side. He was a car dealer, so we had to go exploring. The radiation is not yet scheduled, but it sounds to me as if it will only delay the inevitable — once the cells get into the lymph system, they travel throughout, and, as he says, they could be in his big toe by now. They have to wait until the surgery is completely healed before starting radiation. A lot has changed since 1969, but it will be sad to see him suffer through all that is ahead!

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