This is another writing prompt exercise that I got from my followers on Vine. I asked for a food, an object, and an animal. I got fifteen entries so I chose one at random by assigning each suggestion a number and using a random number generator, to be fair. This suggestion came from The Charles Lloyd. Many thanks to everyone who made a suggestion!
Clemmy sighed and put her cup of coffee down on the red gingham cloth covering the table in her tiny, cramped room. She didn’t even use a coaster although she knew that the coffee could leave a ring that wouldn’t come out, even with bleach. It was late afternoon, and she didn’t even know why she was drinking it other than she was bored and didn’t want to fall asleep again. She was sleeping a lot recently, in two hour spurts, nearly all day. When she tried to go to sleep for the night she lied there on her bed, staring at the water-stained ceiling until two, three, four o’clock, sometimes until her alarm clock went off at eight o’clock in the morning. She was well acquainted with that stain now. Sometimes it looked like a map of the United States, although upside down and with Florida twisted and elongated with bulb at the end and a peninsula sticking out where Miami would be. It reminded her of the porcelain duck creamer on the table in front of her, a gift from Tiny. The beak was cracked, and when she poured milk from it, a drop always remained on the edge and absorbing into the cloth at its feet.
Tiny. She missed Tiny. When he brought her to this place he promised her that he would come see her every weekend, and he did, at first. But as the weekends droned on, and she didn’t die, the visits got fewer and fewer. She couldn’t blame him, really. If she had any place else to be she wouldn’t be here herself. Who wanted to spend their time with a mob of elderly people, all crammed together in one place waiting on the inevitable? Everyone called this place an “old folks’ home,” but she knew what it really was- a waiting room for death. No one ever graduated from here and went to live in a house with a white picket fence, a red barn, and cows out in a pasture. No, that’s what she left behind, and she certainly didn’t look forward to being able to go back there, not any more. Tiny had sold the place to get her into this place, which she refused to call a home. It wasn’t a home to her. Home was where your family came to see you. Home was where you had your own kitchen, not a small table with a microwave and a forbidden hot plate, a fire hazard that you had to hide away any time one of the staff came in. Home was where your heart was, and she didn’t even feel like she had a heart any more. Tiny used to be her heart, but he left her here alone for so long she couldn’t even find her pulse any more.
“Miss Clementine? It’s time for dinner. Do you want me to push you there in your chair, or do you want to use your cane?”
Clemmy looked at the large woman who barged into her room without knocking. For a fraction of a second she didn’t know who it was. With her piled up black hair and fat face the woman looked like her old neighbor, Eva. But Eva died years ago from a breast cancer that metastasized into her pancreas. She remembered going to see Eva in the hospital, tiny, frail, hollow cheeks and eyes that looked like they were at the end of a dark tunnel. She missed Eva.
“What are we having for supper?”
“Well, it’s a choice of meatloaf or salisbury steak, and you can have mashed potatoes, mashed turnips, or baked beans.”
Clemmy cocked her head. “What’s the difference in meatloaf and salisbury steak?”
“I’m not sure myself.”
“And who eats mashed turnips?”
The nurse’s aid laughed. “Well, not many people do, Miss Clementine.”
“I’ve told you to call me Clemmy. The only people that called me Clementine were my teachers in school and the boys who wanted to tease me.”
“You know. They sang that song. I hate that song.”
“You mean ‘Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Clemen…”
“I told you, I hate that song.”
“I’m sorry. That was an awful long time ago, Miss Clemmy.”
“Not to me. Some things stay with you.”
“Well, do you want to ride to the cafeteria or do you want to walk?”
“I think I’ll walk. That way I can leave when I want instead of waiting on someone to roll me back. I don’t want to sit around in a room full of old people eating baked beans and farting.”