The Things We Feel We Need to Do

After what the doctors called her third relapse, Dad said we had no choice but to make sure Grandma stayed safe, and the only way we could do one hundred percent sure, he said, was to have her stay in that old folks home across the river.

I didn’t want her to go, and most days she didn’t want to go either. Dad told her we’d take care of the house, and I thought that meant we’d be moving in. But it just meant we’d sell it, along with most of the stuff inside. Sure we brought Grandma a few boxes of pictures and knickknacks and her old radio. But she didn’t have her mixing bowls, and the doctor said the sewing machine might be a bad idea if she became dangerous again, but he spelled out the word dangerous, to spare me I guess, but I read and write and all that, so I was kind of doubly irritated and offended.

A few weeks later, I went to visit her after school, and she seemed happy to see me, called me her little busy bee and everything, just like she used to. We walked along the sharp smelling halls to what she called the game room. She had me say hi to a few of the people she said were her friends on some days, today being one of them, and then we sat and worked on a puzzle. I think it was supposed to be a flower garden or something, but so many of the pieces were missing, it ended up being a misshapen blob of range and green.

I thought it was a little funny, and tried to make a joke, but Grandma got real upset, and started screaming about how all these people were so irresponsible. How because of them she couldn’t even have a nice afternoon, couldn’t even finish this puzzle with her granddaughter, because someone lost most of the pieces, or for all she knew, probably ate them.

Two men wearing white shirts and pants and those rubber gloves came in and tried to soothe her, but she wasn’t having any of it. Everything came out, how my dad sold her house without telling her, how she didn’t have that nice sweater anymore, that someone stole her jewellery, she was spitting and fighting and I just sat there, watching.

One of the men stuck something in her arm, and the other picked her up and carried her away. I didn’t know what to do, and I expected someone to tell me, someone usually always tells me, but this time, all the other people in the room, just turned their heads and forgot about the whole thing. There was no way I was going to cry here, so I started breaking the puzzle apart and put it back in its box. Then I walked down to Grandma’s room and saw her laying in bed, and staring at the ceiling.

I said I probably should get home, but I could see she wasn’t going to be understanding anything for a while, so I tiptoed across the room and laid my head on her chest and I was sure I could hear the ocean.

Prompts courtesy of Cake.shortandsweet‘s Wednesday Write In.

10 thoughts on “The Things We Feel We Need to Do

  1. As always, you weave some fantastic lines and images into this. It’s these details that make the whole piece come alive – the missing jigsaw pieces, the spelling out of words to save a child’s ears, the smell of the halls … all sorts of little things. And the ending is just beautiful – we can feel the kid’s love for Grandma and her lack of understanding about what is happening. Great stuff.

  2. This was beautiful, particularly so in the last line. I loved your closing image, the young girl leaning her head on her grandmother’s chest – so touching, and so real. Great voice and wonderful touches of imagery, and also a really clear understanding of the reality of being an unlistened-to child.

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