I don’t remember much before this moment. I don’t recognize exactly where I am, although this recliner chair fits me like a glove. A female talk show host on the television is blathering on and on about some burst of insight, but it’s not Oprah and I don’t care for the knock-off, dime store psychology. The imitation is enough to make me shift in my seat and utter something in annoyance, more of a raspy croak than my usual gentle voice. I glance to my right and the grey-haired man next to me smiles with his eyes and a tangle of memories are suddenly swept out the corner and set adrift, cascading down in my mind as sparkly as water splashing off of sun soaked rocks.
I feel a flood of joy and break into a face-splitting grin, which is quickly replaced by a concerned and furrowed brow. He looks surprised as he reaches for my forearm and gives me a gentle pat.
“Are you getting Maria off the bus?” I ask him.
He continues to pat my arm, turning his attention back to the Oprah Winfrey imposter. Typical. He never responds to anything I ask the first time. I guess I’ll have to go get her myself.
I start to stand up, my knees grinding in revolt, and somebody rushes from the across the room and pushes me back down into my seat. This actually hurts a little. I must have strained my back carrying laundry up and down the stairs. I swear the amount of laundry these kids produce…
This lady is pointing her finger at me. I’m told to stay . Like a dog-trainer scolding a errant beagle, she says it three times in escalating volume. Why is she so angry? The fourth time she is pushing down on my shoulders so hard that I have no choice but to push back.
I realize that the bus is almost at the end of our street and, at this rate, no one will be there to meet her. Sunny must be home with her baby. I think Shane is at football practice with his son. Or maybe with his dad. I can’t keep them straight. Poor Maria won’t know what to do. The thought of her standing there, alone, looking lost and afraid, causes me to panic.
I am quicker this time, and get to my feet before the lady can bully me any further. The grey-haired man also protests my actions, reaching for me from his recliner, which makes me really angry considering it’s his six-year-old daughter too. I shout something at him, using language that comes from somewhere primordial and deep. I don’t like these words, but I sure do mean them. He pulls me by the wrist and I swat at him with my other hand.
I’m coming, baby!
Now that I’m standing I have the sudden urge to pee, and all I can think about is making it to the bathroom in a hurry. The lady blocks my way and tries to reason with me, but there’s no reasoning with my bladder.
I am nearly hysterical now. These people won’t let go of me and now I’m wet and my baby girl is all alone. This is so humiliating, and frustrating, and unnecessary. I slump back down into my recliner, defeated and sad.
The man pats my hand and gives it a squeeze. I look into his eyes and I see something warm and familiar. His voice is gentle and kind. He loves me, so he says again and again. I adore him too, since the first time we met. Our wedding was a blast.
My back starts to ache again so I shift in my seat. I look to my right at the grey-haired man sitting next to me. He seems like a very nice man. His wife must be very lucky to have him. I hope she loves him as much as I love my husband.
There’s that twinkle again. And that pat on my arm. Wait a minute, that’s not Oprah. What’s going on here?