Emma Weid didn’t trust anyone. As the younger sister to a pair of terrible twin brothers, she often heard, “the boys will only want you for one thing”. It took years, into her late teens, for Emma to realize what that “one thing” was. When she met Eldon Weid at college, she found him attractive, but suspect. What did he really want from her? Her math skills? Her top-of-the-grade essays? Her petite and curvaceous body topped with a glorious head of curly auburn hair? She wasn’t sure, but when he proposed, she said yes. And then when their two children, Charles and Christine were born, she cringed when the occasional person would remark that the children were growing like weeds, which was, of course, how their last name was pronounced.
Now, after a successful thirty-year career as head mistress in a private school for girls, after surviving widowhood from the age of seventy-one, Emma found that at the age of eighty-two, her children were ready to see her settle into a facility where her needs could be properly met. She’d tripped and broken her right leg and ankle, which apparently meant that she had also broken her brain.
“Mother,” Christine said, “I think you’ll enjoy Willow Brook. There’s absolutely no sense in your going back to the house after rehab. I can arrange to move you directly from here to your nice new quarters. Living as far from you as we do, it’s quite a worry for us, you know, to be wondering if you’re on the floor or something.” Emma looked at her stern fifty-four year old daughter. Christine was president of the Charlestown-Patriot Savings Bank and her husband was an investment banker. Their thirty year-old son had just started his own software company in the heart of New York City. How, Emma wondered, did she grow old enough to claim a thirty year-old grandson?
Emma hated arguing with Christine who never learned how to call it quits. To keep peace, Emma nodded her approval at her daughter’s distasteful suggestion.
“Willow Brook sounds like a fine place,” Emma lied. “I will, however,” she continued with her most firm of voices, “go back home first. I will not go anywhere else directly from this hospital. I have things to address.”
Christine sighed and looked frustrated. In her world, things were black and white, digits and dashes. “But you’ll go soon?” she said. “Really, Mother, Charles and I are in agreement, this is the best solution.”
Solution? Problems have solutions. They obviously considered her a problem.
Back at the place she’d called home for more than forty-five years, Emma assured Christine that she’d be fine on her own. Using a three-pronged cane issued to her by the rehab center, which she didn’t need, she appeared to be both cooperative and capable for the time being. When the door closed behind her daughter, Emma made a face and a grunting sound indicating that she just might have her own ideas for the future.
Her old brownstone house just off Storrow Drive in Boston was long ago paid for, money was not an issue. Emma looked out at the length of narrow, stone fenced backyard from her dining room’s French doors. Eldon and she had enjoyed many an evening out there with their various small dogs and one cat who’d invited himself in for at least a dozen years before he died three days after Eldon. Emma smiled recalling the good times. She liked it here, although it was large and sometimes lonely. She was ready for a small, and perhaps, temporary change. She made a few phone calls and checked on her passport, which was up to date from her trip to Ireland last year. Christine just might wonder about that and check to see that everything was valid. Then she called a taxi to take her to a shopping mall about one mile from her home. The English Ford that sat in the garage was fine, but she wasn’t all that sure about driving yet, that ankle was still a bit stiff. Besides, at eighty-two, maybe she’d let go of the driving. You hear so often she thought, about those batty old things that put a foot on the accelerator instead of the brake and went bursting into some place where they had no business being. Yes, she would give up the car, but quite probably not the house. And as for Willow Brook, not now, not ever.
Back from her excursion by taxi, Emma tried on some new purchases and smiled at her reflection in the hallway mirror. She made herself a cup of Earl Grey tea then sat down to write Christine a note, which she would mail that day.
I know you believe that your plans for me are the right ones, but since I disagree, this is what I plan to do. I have made arrangements for the house to be monitored on a regular basis by someone I trust as much as myself. I will be away. When I return, and at this point there is no schedule, I intend to sell the car. I’ve always intended to see the pyramids and Casablanca as well as some other exotic places. I’m going. Please don’t look for me, I’m fine, in fact, never better. I’ll tell you all about my adventures when I return.
Emma packed her new clothes, stuffed an ample amount of cash into her purse, then called a taxi, which she took to LoganAirport. She found an empty stall in a ladies’ room there where she made a few adjustments, and then she took another taxi back to the small apartment house directly across the street from her own home. She looked at the FOR RENT sign in the second floor window, then walked, carrying her two light suitcases, wearing lime green tights and black sensible shoes to match her knee-length black dress and coat. She also wore a generously full blonde wig, which she cheerfully referred to as her “escape roots.”
From the large picture window in her spacious yet sparsely furnished new digs, Emma smiled as she held a small bottle of ginger ale to her brightly painted lips. “See you later this evening, dear house,” she said aloud watching sparrows dart amidst her eaves. And then she took another swig.
An author of romantic novels set in New England, Virginia Young paints primitive scenes and is a former reporter for two Massachusetts newpapers.
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