Page 18 - Scene Magazine 45-12 December 2020
P. 18

A Fictional Story
By Jan Corey Arnett
and the Barn
      Lydia eased her too-thin frame carefully onto one of the couches in the welcoming area of the senior living center. From there, she could see the front doors to the circle drive, offices to the right, and double doors to the congregate dining area at the left. She wasn’t sure why she had chosen to sit rather than return to her apartment after choosing a book from the center’s library. It wasn’t like her.
Watching others pass by, sometimes oblivious to anything or anyone around them, she sighed deeply, kneading, with gnarled old hands, the black bandana around her thin neck. Making the move to WindWood had been difficult. Gone was the independence in the country home she’d loved for more than fifty years.
How did the years get away so quickly? she thought, a sharp pain darting down her left leg as she shifted position.
I was young when places like this for the elderly were first talked about. Never did I think I’d ever be living in one.
Lydia watched as a pony-tailed young woman trotted in and stopped at the office. A few minutes later, her business completed, she turned to leave, but cast a glance back at the woman on the sofa. A look of surprise crossed her face as she approached the eighty-something resident.
“Excuse me,” she said, “You look so familiar. I feel like I should know you.”
Lydia patted the cushion beside her. “Sit for a moment?”
The young woman who appeared to be in her early thirties, dropped quickly onto the sofa, laying her coat and back- pack beside her. “Thanks” she said, “I’m Casey.”
“Call me Liddy,” the older woman said with a gentle smile.
“I have to tell you,” Casey said, “When I saw you sitting here, I was just totally blown away. How do I know you?” She ran a hand lightly down her ponytail,
her face, quizzical. “I just feel it. Is that weird?”
“I don’t know!” Lydia laughed, adjust- ing the black and white bandana that she was rarely without. “I look like your grand- mother, perhaps? I have lived around here much longer than you are old!”
“I moved here about four years ago,” Casey said with a smile. “... From Penn- sylvania, for my husband’s work. I teach.”
“I have lived here – at this place – a little over a year,” Lydia offered. “It was for the best.”
“You don’t sound entirely happy about it,” Casey probed tentatively, fearing she was overstepping her bounds.
“I am an independent spirit,” Lydia explained, “I did okay after my husband died. But then I broke a hip, did therapy, and my nephew who manages things
for me now, didn’t feel I should go back home. He was trying to do what was best for me.”
The two women sat quietly for a mo- ment, both gazing toward the entrance until Lydia turned to study Casey’s face. There was a gentle attractiveness about her, the simple glow of dark brown hair. Barely a bit of makeup.
And then, as Lydia reached again to caress her bandana, it was Casey’s turn to study her. Long, fine white hair, wound with hairpins, held by a clip, hazel green eyes, and a narrow face marked with age spots that spoke of a life spent outdoors.
“What kinds of things did you do?
I mean, before you came to live here?” Casey asked, politely.
Lydia’s smile was fleeting but sincere. “My husband and I had beef cattle and a couple of horses. I traveled some for my job. Project management. He was in skilled trades. We had a dog, big yard, garden, a nice barn. Such a nice barn. Lots of work!” Intense longing swept over her.
Casey reached over spontaneously and laid her hand over Lydia’s. “I’m with you there!” she laughed. “We fell in love with a place that has a barn so we got our daughter a horse. I am excited about all that organic, sustainable, live-off-the- land stuff, but it’s a lot of work!”
One topic led to the next and many minutes had flown by as Casey, thrilled to have found someone who could advise her, asked question after question, to which Lydia, delighted to have someone value her opinion, provided answer after answer.
“Oh Liddy,” Casey said in surprise
as her eyes caught the time on a large wall clock. “I only stopped to confirm our Christmas play for residents, and we’ve been talking nearly an hour! I’ve got to get going. But... if it’s okay with you... could I stop again in a few days?”
Casey came again and again and again in the few remaining weeks before Christmas and with each visit the two women grew closer.
Liddy was in the front row when a bubbly group of high school students, under Casey’s direction, put on a short, humorous program for residents just days before the holidays.
“Did you like the show?” Casey asked her new friend as the teens chattered their way out to waiting cars.

   16   17   18   19   20