I entered a story over at Operation Awesome’s Flash Fiction contest.
It’s 690 words long. Check it out!
In the end, memories are all we have. Memories are all we might take beyond our graves.
It was the end of our summer trip, thirty years ago, when Alzheimer’s struck. We looked so young, skinny, and kind of like hostages. Eleanor was the first to be taken down. She should have never been brought to this prison for the old. It is my firm belief her mind would have been spared had her children not locked her away. They always were ungrateful beasts. To say she was sentenced here “so we could be together” was worse than any whipping our father ever doled out. I still smell his burnt coffee breath and lack of deodorant. Kids today never appreciate that product. Elders reeked to high Heaven back in my day. And yes, that’s a capital H in Heaven, because it’s a proper noun. In my day, everyone knew that much.
Where was I? Ah, yes. Extended life gives that terrible disease more time to take hold of even the strongest minds. Eleanor, or Professor Eleanor Cove-Jablonsky as she was better known, could recite pi to well over one hundred thousand places. She developed a mathematical theorem used by NASA. In short, my sister is a genius. Or she was. Now she has trouble recalling the word for eggs. Perhaps calling them “jiggly yellow nose balls” isn’t far off.
The end of our last summer trip, our final breath of freedom, is a memory she retained. She relives it every morning. I hear her begging the nurse not to leave her here. Of course, she thinks the nurse is Mary. Her daughter Mary, not me. But that Mary isn’t here. She hasn’t had a free minute to visit in the last decade. Not that she came more than twice a year, Christmas and Easter, in the twenty years before that. Probably for the best. On her last visit, she begged her mother to die. She said paying for her care had gotten to be too much. Mary’s children moved home after college and couldn’t find decent jobs. I’d feel bad for her, I would, but she is the one who locked Eleanor away.
Mary also incarcerated Doris, my other triplet. The fool signed over her power of attorney without batting an eyelash. Always too agreeable. She was taken by Alzheimer’s second, but by Death first.
Ted, Mary’s brother who’s a lawyer, convinced my children that I ought to be sentenced to this place. The crime was barely eating for three days. I realize that sounds bad for a seventy-five-year-old. But I had been out hunting. You eat only what you catch or gather when you’re hunting. Some fools wear expensive coats, pack a lunch, and bring electronic devices into the forest. They carry weapons that cost more than I paid for my first house. I am not that kind of hunter. The hunting attire I wear is made from the skins of the animals of my last trip. My weapons are forged from nature. Ordinarily, I’m an expert in the woods. But faced with those orange wearing corporate drones who play hunters, I…
They shot first.
I don’t belong here. The food is flavorless mush that smells like canned peas. The sweaters and slippers make me itch. I watch bad reruns on television. My sister’s body is decaying. Each day I’m tortured as her vacant mind that was once brilliant spouts out gibberish. These restraints are hardly the worst they can do to me, but they’re unpleasant nonetheless. Yes, I tried to die. And yes, I meant to end Eleanor’s suffering along with my own. Some sins are worse than others.
Our family trip to an amusement park was a distraction. The final destination was this prison for the elderly. There is a sin in that. A lie. Where did our children learn such deception? Yes, we would tell them they were going for ice cream and then stop at the dentist or doctor along the way. But the reward came after! No reward is coming for us. Except, perhaps, our deaths. Maybe Heaven will be an ice cream shop.