Prompt: Picture of an Old Lady

We were given a picture (mine was of an old lady) and had ten minutes to tell her story.

Her hands twitched and the tips of her fingers settled deeper into the fur of her geriatric cat— her age in feline years.

The TV blared: “The cleaning action of just one teaspoon of Tide will challenge an entire cup of …”

She sat, paralyzed by a sleep that could never make up for the rest she lost over the years, on two children, grandchildren.

“Charlie,” she groaned. “Charlie, the water’s running again.”

Her eyes dashed beneath their closed lids—heavy, flesh curtains between a dream and the seedy surroundings of an elderly woman in the projects.

A bird landed on a branch outside a window close by and set the cat to arch its back and fantasize about pursuit.

She awoke. Charlie disappeared and was replaced by a lingering, tear-filled stare from one soap opera star to another.

The millionth betrayal but just like the first.

Pushing into the arms of her lounger, she hoisted her body until her legs could kick in and finish the job.

And as she cleared the kitchen entrance, she dared to think of him again but this time knew not to say his name.

The water was running and she had to turn it off.


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