It was late March, and Myra Jackson couldn’t understand why the apartment was so cold.
The weather had been sunny and warm for three or four days in a row, so at first, she thought she’d turned off the furnace too soon. An overnight drop in temperature, and she woke up shivering. She got up to check the thermostat. Squinting at the tiny numbers on the readout, she scowled. The thing was still set at sixty eight degrees, and according to the thermometer, the temperature in the room was over seventy. She didn’t believe it. Seventy? Not if she was wearing a sweater and still shivering. She’d have to call the landlord. Screwy weather, and if the temperature dropped more overnight, the pipes would freeze.
He wouldn’t want to call a workman. Not on the weekend. And she’d wind up turning the oven up to 500 degrees, in hopes of keeping warm.
That’s when she turned to get the phone, and saw herself.
A lifetime of dreaming strange dreams had prepared her for that moment. She was pleasantly puzzled by the sight of herself on the couch, and vaguely aware there should be some hidden meaning to the way the blanket was crumpled on the floor, or the way her head lolled forward, onto her heavy, old-lady bossom. She had meant to lose weight–of course she had–for most of the last sixty years. And how long had it been since she’d had her hair done? She noticed the pictures of her friends on the endtable. They all looked younger than she did. And in her groggy dream-state, she realized, not surprised, that of course, they did. The pictures had been taken in college, most of them. Some of them were more recent, but still decades old. The women in the pictures had never gotten as old as she was, now.
She was the lucky one. Most people never got as old as she was.In another three weeks–nineteen days, the numbered squares on calendar from home health said–she’d be a hundred. There was going to be cake, and mint chocolate chip ice cream, and her gentleman friend, an innocent young thing in his mid-eighties, had promised to dance for her at the party. He’d hinted that he might even take off his shirt.
And why was she disappointed? She tilted her head and looked at the self on the couch, and gradually, she understood.She wasn’t going to be a hundred years old.
Not this time.
Not this time, she repeated to herself, as if she’d consoled herself the same way many times before, although she couldn’t remember being alive any other time, and she couldn’t be sure there was going to be a next time.
And what, exactly, was she supposed to do in a situation like this? There was no point in calling an ambulance. No reason to make lunch. She wasn’t going to stand around an empty apartment and watch herself not breathe all afternoon. There was no way to know the protocol. Maybe if she waited long enough, someone–a grim reaper, or an angel of death, maybe–would come to pick her up. And maybe they wouldn’t.
That was the trick of the thing: she didn’t know what was supposed to happen next.
She could… potentially… given the circumstances… spend the rest of eternity sitting in a cold apartment, waiting for someone to come get her.
She thought about her options for longer than it had taken to realize she was dead.
Then, she turned her back on herself, and walked out of the apartment.
Be sure you visit the rest of the stories in the StoryTime Blog hop:
You are here—>Beginning Again, by Karen Lynn
Under the Bridge, by Katharina Gerlach
Black and White, by Bill Bush
Summer Siren, by Elizabeth McCleary
The Birch Tree, by Juneta Key
The Zoning Zone, by Vanessa Wells
Secrets, by Elizabeth Winfield
Team Building Exercise, by Samantha Bryant
Another Time, by J. Q. Rose
Suds and Scales by Eileen Mueller