What We Hear
© 2010 Rebecca Rhielle
Sadie looked around at the gray, institutional walls, taking in the sterile, antiseptic atmosphere. This was called an assisted living home, but she didn’t see how anyone could honestly call this “living”. Hopefully she would have the good fortune to die a quick and painless death when her time came, with no hope of hanging on in a place like this. A girl can dream.
Walking up to the info desk, she stood waiting impatiently for the woman behind it to notice there was someone in need of her attention. After a full thirty seconds of watching the pages of a People magazine flip by, Sadie cleared her throat pointedly.
Setting down her tome, the terribly friendly creature sighed heavily and looked up at Sadie over her bifocals.
Nimble fingers tipped with inch-long, bright green fingernails typed it in. “We got no Sadie Johnson, miss.”
“No,” Sadie replied patiently, “that’s my name.”
Another large sigh, this time accompanied by an eyeroll. “Name of the patient?”
Sadie heard Arnold mumble, “She’s not a patient. She’s a resident.”
Silently Sadie begged him to keep his cool.
“Mmm hmm,” clucked the nurse sarcastically, without even typing in the name. “And what do you want to see Ms. Walker for? You can tell you ain’t related … you’re a little too pale to be in her family, child,” she finished, chuckling to herself, “and we only let family in to visit.”
Sadie knew the truth would never work. Time for Plan B.
“For your information, my pale mother was adopted as an infant by Ms. Walker, who therefore happens to be my grandmother. So I would appreciate if you kept your comments to yourself, and direct me to my Granny’s room immediately. Unless you would prefer to have your manager escort me?”
Sadie stared down the nurse, one eyebrow raised, as Arnold’s belly laugh resonated in her ears.
“That’s my girl,” he chuckled.
The nurse’s demeanor shifted considerably, and she began to apologize profusely as she walked them down the hallway. “I’m sorry, Miss Johnson. We’re just trying to protect our guests, and with all the media that covered Mrs. Walker’s car accident …” she let her words drift off.
“It’s okay,” Sadie replied magnanimously, “I appreciate you taking such good care of my Granny.”
“It’s our pleasure, miss.” She turned a key in the lock of a non-descript door, and it swung open to reveal the stately Mrs. Walker staring out the window, humming “Just As I Am” softly to herself.
The butterflies in Sadie’s stomach turned to hornets. “Arnold, you had better know what you’re doing,” she whispered. “‘Cuz here we go.”