*Short story originally written for a challenge in which no more than 525 words could be used and certain elements must be included – a picture of an older man and woman laughing outside, crepey skin, gingham material, and it must end with the sentence “I’m sure they think we’re aliens”. I had a hard time with this one, due in large part to the ending sentence. And trying to write it from the perspective of a person much older than me was .. interesting.
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“Martha? Watchya makin’ over there?”
“I said, What Are You Making!? With the yarn!”
“Oh. I’m fine, it’s fine. Fingers are a little stiff. But that’s ok…”
Martha trailed off, either fully aware that the afternoon’s activities weren’t nearly as necessary as the nursing aides would lead us to believe, or indifferent to the idea of carrying on a conversation.
Today was Generational Integration Day at Meadow Winds Assisted Living. Some cockamamie outreach program designed to keep the residents active while promoting the facility’s “wonderful activities” to the community – you know in case there were people nearby thinking of sending their elders to this god forsaken hell hole.
Myself and ten of the other residents were positioned around the courtyard awaiting the arrival of a group of elementary schooled children. Martha and I were seated at a picnic table where Christine, our glorified babysitter was tying down a brightly colored checkered table-cloth. As if some simple gingham fabric could lighten our spirits by about thirty years.
“Well you just keep at it Martha. I’m sure the kids will love to … learn how to knit.”
Who was I fooling? You can’t teach a kid to knit in an hour. And even if you could, the kids these days wouldn’t be interested. To be honest, the kids these days probably wouldn’t be interested in us at all. With our hearing aids, wheelchairs, our thin and wrinkled skin… we’d might as well be from another planet.
“Okay ladies! Today’s the big day!” Christine said to me, in that sing-song way she talks.
“Sure is. How nice to be out here in the fresh air and sunshine?” I’ve learned to always stay positive with the aids – much less hassle.
“It is nice, huh Joyce?! The kids’ll be here any minute and you’re my main gal – you up for frosting some cookies with them?”
“Sure, I suppose I could do that.” I always got roped into extra activities. Course, I was much more mobile than some of these other old geezers.
“Here’s an apron – wouldn’t want to get that pretty dress dirty.” Christine winked at me as if we were old chums.
I tied the dingy white apron around my waist and attempted to arrange the frosting and sprinkles on the table when old Marty Mathieson walked over.
“Hiya Marty. How ya doin?”
“Better now I seen your beautiful face, Joyce!”
“Oh, hush now. You know I ain’t buying what you’re sellin!”
Marty chuckled and nudged me with his elbow. “Sneak me one a them sugar cookies, sugar! I need the energy for these children comin’ in.”
“Oh, like you need more energy.”
“Sure I do. These youngins look up to us. We gotta entertain ‘em, ya know? They think we’re som’pin special.”
The kids were getting off their bus now, and every one of ‘em had their head down playing with some electronic gadget. They were probably confused by anything that didn’t fit inside their touch screens.
I looked at Marty – stained white shirt, overweight and old as all get out. Something special indeed.
“Oh, don’t kid yourself Marty. I’m sure they think we’re aliens.”