“Good morning. This is Alicia from Lake Serenity Nursing Home, and I’m trying to reach Kate Watts.”
“This is she.” Her eyes darted to the right in an air of suspicion. “How can I help you?”
“Great,” she sighed. “I’m so glad I reached you. I’m calling on behalf of Eunice Brown. She’s asked me personally if I’d call you.” Alicia’s thick Southern voice began strong and pragmatic, then almost broke breaking the news. “Well, she’s not doing too good. Actually, she’s on the verge of passing.”
“Eunice? I’m sorry—I’m a little confused. I’m not sure why she asked you to call me.”
The silence gathered in intensity as Alicia fumbled for a response. “Well, umm, I’m not sure either. Miss Eunice asked me to call you, and…”
“Eunice was my step-mother. We no longer consider ourselves related. Please don’t call me a—”
“Wait! Please. Miss Eunice asked me to call you. She wants you to come see her. She said she has something for you.” Her rapid speech fired like bullets.
“I’m not sure there’s anything that Eunice has that I would desire. As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, we’re not on the best of terms.”
Alicia hesitated. “Miss Watts, Miss Eunice said she knew you wouldn’t wanna come. She said to tell you, and I quote, ‘Get over here now, or I swear I’ll haunt you when I die.’” She winced, expecting that the end of the call was nigh.
“Good lord. She already haunts me,” Kate directed to herself. “Fine. Tell her I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thank you, really,” Alicia said then paused. “Oh, Miss Watts, one more thing. She really doesn’t have long to go. She could pass at any minute. Please don’t wait too long.”
No response quite captured her emotions, so Kate disconnected. What could that woman possibly want with me? I haven’t even talked to her since Daddy died. And for very good reason! The nerve! She continued scoffing—a silent scoff but with visible facial expressions—which may have seemed odd to onlookers, had there been anyone who noticed.
In the reception room, Alicia held out her arms wide in anticipation of a warm hug but quickly brought her arms in and changed her motion to waving, wiggly fingers as she read the cold, stoic face of Kate Watts. Kate knew that Eunice had charmed these ladies, and she severely judged them for being duped; they all held heartbreaking faces of pity for her, as well as themselves.
Alicia wafted down the hallway leaving a trail of cherry blossom in her wake. “Here’s her room right here.” She knocked gently on the door and cracked it open. “Miss Eunice, someone’s here to seeee youuuu.” A faint voice mumbled something, and Alicia opened the door wider to let the guest in. “Here she is! Miss Kate’s come to see ya!” Extremely proud of herself, Alicia presented the guest and motioned her to sit at the bedside; as her emotions welled inside, Alicia inhaled deeply to keep from crying, and noticing that she perhaps stayed too long, she left.
Kate stared at the woman, fragile and corpse-like. Eunice moved the bed into an upright position and turned her thin-skinned, mouth-agape face towards Kate, whose eyes increased in circumference until she realized they did so, and when she caught this breach of emotion, she slanted them seedily.
“Well?” Kate began, seeming inconvenienced by the visit.
“How you been? I ain’t seen you for ages,” Eunice almost smiled through her slow, feeble voice.
“Eunice. What do you want?”
Eunice, feigning a wounded pride, began. “Well, I know you probably hate me, but I just wanted to say sorry before I die. We didn’t see eye to eye, but you needed tough love. I’m a cantankerous woman, and the world needs people like me.”
“I disagree. The world needs love and encouragement and—“
“I knew you’d say that. That’s why we never got along. We see things different. Anyways, I’m sorry we didn’t get along.”
“The receptionist said you had something for me. Is that it—to say you’re sorry? On your deathbed. That’s very classic-Eunice.”
“Take what you can get,” and at this, Eunice tried to laugh, but her feathery breath wheezed.
Kate sat back in the chair. In the dim quiet, she contemplated the apology as Eunice’s breath rattled a slow and labored sign of life. An epiphany descended with the specks of dust in the small shards of sunlight straining to enter.
“You know, Eunice, I’m sorry, too. I’m sorry we didn’t get along. But, I just now realized that you did what you thought was right. You thought tough love was right. It wasn’t, but you didn’t know better, and I can’t blame you for that. You just…didn’t know better.”
“Whatever helps you sleep at night, hun. Go on now. I’m tired. Gotta get my beauty rest.” Eunice turned her face to the wall, silent and still.
Kate stared at the nearly lifeless figure, watching her chest heavy with breath. She pitied Eunice, partly for her beliefs and partly because she knew Eunice would hate to be pitied. “Thanks for calling,” she whispered. Kate withdrew from the room. She smiled a thank you to Alicia and walked to her car, scolding herself for the welling of tears.
Written by Karen Toralba – Hattiesburg, Missississpi, United States
Feature Photo by Erkan Utu
You Can’t Make This Sh*t Up Journal
A Record of Incredible Shenanigans
That I May or May Not Have Engaged in and/or Witnessed
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- Paperback: 149 pages
- Language: English
- ISBN-13: 978-1700068170
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
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