The morning was frigid. A thin sheet of ice had formed on the outside of the bathroom window. After the steamy shower the ice was melting, sliding down the glass. She quickly dressed. She was looking forward to a mug of hot coffee and maybe a cinnamon biscotti. Then she’d have to take all her medications. The older she became, the more pills her aging body required just to be able to get through each day and it was gnawing at her– pissing her off.
She didn’t like growing old; it was damned inconvenient . Many of her friends took the same medications. After one of her “angry” days, she called some of her friends and they had a “senior” party. They brought their medications and played a quiz game she had concocted called “explain that medication”. They all seemed to have a great time. Of course, they were all very drunk. It was cathartic. She felt better afterwards; at least for a while.
Rheumatoid arthritis had been acting up more than usual over the past several weeks. She hoped she would have a good weekend. The kids were coming to spend a few days with her and to go skiing at nearby Crested Butte. So far she felt all right. Maybe she would go with them. She had to be in a good mood for them, or at least, give the appearance of being in one. She didn’t want them to know about the biopsy taken yesterday and that she wouldn’t have the results until Monday. That would throw a wet blanket on their weekend. Randy would be angry and Emma would cry.
After pouring her coffee, she decided she wanted a cigarette but she would have to smoke it outside. She didn’t want the kids to know she had taken up smoking again. She went out on the deck facing Randy’s mountain. That’s what they named it so many years ago when they bought the place as a vacation home. Randy was little and wanted his own mountain. Atop Randy’s mountain sits Emma’s Peak. She didn’t want a whole mountain.
It was so cold out. The sun was still climbing in an azure sky. The house was in the shadow of Randy’s mountain and there wasn’t a cloud anywhere. She knew, though, in the Rockies the weather could change in a heartbeat. She had driven here after yesterday’s biopsy. She just wanted to be miserable by herself. Now the kids were coming to interrupt that misery. She couldn’t say “no” to them. She and their father had done their best to spoil them but they didn’t turn out that way.
She finished her cigarette. The remainder of her coffee was cold and she was freezing. Time to go inside. She decided to make a fire, but that meant gathering up an armful of wood from the wood bin around the corner. She went around the side of the house and gathered enough for a good-sized fire. By the time she got her bundle of wood into the house and dropped it in front of the living room fireplace, she was barely able to walk. Her feet and ankles were swollen and her knees and hips hurt. Her “good” days appeared less and less often these past few months.
She made the fire despite her discomfort. She took her pain pills . She would feel better soon. The pills did not mask the pain so much as it helped her tolerate it. She would like to take a couple more pain pills and go back to bed, but, then, the kids would be here soon. Sometimes all she needed was a solid day of rest and she’d be okay for the rest of the weekend.
Every now and then an unexpected thought would creep into her mind. If the biopsy came back positive, maybe the end was within reach and she wouldn’t have to suffer anymore. Her doctors were already talking about joint replacements. How long should a person drag out her life? She was no longer making babies or nurturing children. She no longer contributed to the fitness of her adult offspring. She was no longer a vital participant in evolution. There was a time, not long ago actually, when someone like her would be abandoned on an ice flow–the next meal for a killer whale or polar bear. Before modern medicine people just suffered their fates. That certainly would decrease the strain on resources.
The next day, while the kids were snow boarding nearby, she dressed for outdoors, grabbed her cigarettes and walked out the front door. Her legs were complaining but she kept walking. She slowly started up the hill, not stopping until she was high enough to see a good part of the valley with her house nestled beneath Randy’s mountain. Just down the road from her house she could see her neighbor’s place–smoke pumping its way out of the chimney like steam from a Calliope. On the far side of Randy’s mountain, she could barely see figures on the ski slope. She pulled binoculars out of her pocket and focused on the slope. Patiently, she waited. There. There they were. With fluid motion, the brother and sister acted as one, jumping on their boards simultaneously–gliding down the mountain. Suddenly, her cell rang. It was her doctor. At first she was afraid to answer. Then finally…
“Julia, it’s Amanda. I had pathology rush the tissue sample. I just couldn’t bear waiting until Monday.”
Julia, looked so small on that snow-covered hill by herself. She sat down in the snow and lit a cigarette….
Once More with Feeling #14 – Cognitive Reflection
photo prompt: Image credit DJ Matticus
Word Count < 1000