The new nurse wheels me into the theatre. It isn’t easy to navigate
the small space between the stage and the front row of seats. She
turns my chair until she’s able to fit me into place at the end of the
row. Sixty-years ago I was an actor. I controlled the emotions of
rooms like this. Now I cannot even control one hour of my life. I am
trapped in this body with hunched shoulders. Rusted wire hands covered
with skin that tears like nightmare rice paper. Watery eyes, washed
out eyes. Bones that never stop humming with ache. Muscles that hang
there, dying, saying no. A mouth that is always dry, choked with dry.
Without moving anything except my eyes, I am able to see a woman. She
is perfect. Her hair, straight and blond, like light. She tucks it
behind her ear, and I see the small pearl earring she has chosen. Her
sweater scoops just below her collarbone, that most beautiful part of
a woman. She looks at the man next to her. She smiles and looks down
at her fingers and she begins to move her fingertips around her thigh,
like she is tracing letters there. She looks towards me. But she does
not look at me. Then she looks at everything around me, but not at me.
Usually I get the small smiles women give old men, like we’re stuffed
animals, no longer predatory, not really alive. But she won’t even
give me that.
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6 responses to “She tells me I am already gone by Lou Freshwter”
Heartbreaking, yet it’s so telling of human nature and our reaction to age.
Thank you, Susan. I share your passion about this issue.
I also think I hate this title. I should have left it off.
I feel so sorry for him, he feels so powerless. How the mighty have fallen.
That vacant look, where people look through you or around you but not at you, is probably one of the worse realities of human nature and oh so incredibly isolating… Old age, disability, illness, uniqueness… It’s a look given so frequently and for so many different reasons… Such a sad and wonderful piece!
Beautiful story, Lou. I love how you’ve told it from the pov of someone disabled and old, someone castaway. Thank you for this. Peace…
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