Excerpt from Short Story, Heart of Silence

Just a bit of what I’m working on this month:

Broken mirror by my house Reginald runs down the hallway, his sneakers squeaking on the tired linoleum. It’s Joe in B14 again. Alzheimer’s dementia, sometimes gets combative. Reginald is the only orderly on this shift who knows how to calm Joey down. He wouldn’t have to beat a trail to the door so often if the fucking doctor would get this guy the medicine he needs, but hey, ole Reg is here to take care of things.

He bursts into the room. Lime green walls, plastered with random bits of newspaper articles because Joe insists that’s how people stay on top of current events. Someone pays for Joe’s private room because his insurance certainly doesn’t include that, but nobody knows who this sugar momma or daddy is. And why don’t they ever come visit?

Joe is screaming at the mirror in his bathroom. It’s full of streaks and a lot of the silver on the back side of the glass is missing so it doesn’t even but half-reflect a person anymore. But Joe is a stubborn bastard, so when Reginald runs in he finds Joe leaning on the sink, staring at himself and screaming.

“This mirror is broken,” he says.

“Come over here, Jocelyn. It’s okay.”

“What evil did you put in this mirror? Why are you doing this to me?”

“It’s okay, you’re okay,” says Reginald.

“There’s someone in the mirror!”

“Let’s come over to the other room,” says Reginald, gesturing for Joe to come with him, as if making a small current of air with his arms would draw the old man in.

“Tell me why there’s a strange man in my mirror!”

Reginald can’t tell him why.

“I’ll talk to the building manager. We’ll get the mirror out of your bathroom.”

That seems to settle him a little. It always does.

“Okay. Yes. I want it gone. I want that mirror gone!”

One of the small blessings of Alzheimer’s—the tricks others learn to calm the patient usually work again and again. At least until their cognitive capacity takes another slide down into oblivion.

“Sure, I’ll call the building manager. We’ll make it go away.”

There is no building manager, no approval to remove the mirror in a nursing home that has a high turnover rate of patients. And no way to explain any of this. Reginald has done what he can to fuck the mirror up so much that Joey can’t use it anymore, but yeah, he’s like an old mule.

“Let’s see if Judge Joe Brown is on,” Reginald says, his large arms finally making contact around Joe’s shoulders, guiding him gently to the easy chair next to the bed. The flat screen television is the only new thing in this room, so it is locked to the wall.

“Come on, Jocelyn.”

The name gets Joe to settle down a little more.

Because Joe has forgotten, in the twisted ruins of his memory, that he transitioned forty years ago and is no longer the woman he expects to see in a mirror.

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Categories: ev's writing, Writing

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