In My Own Little Corner From Cinderella Songwriters: Oscar Hammerstein/ Richard Rodgers
Today, he’s at the Amusement Park. He closes his eyes to better enjoy the movement of the roller coaster. He knows it’s the gravity that shifts his body from side to side. He feels bumps as the car travels forward. What a treat today. He is out. Not just out but outside. He raises his nose and catches a whiff of something to eat. He can’t place exactly what it is but it is something sweet. His sugar loving momma had raised him so he could name a sugary treat from a mile away. He felt his mouth start to water. Yes, he knew it, cinnamon, butter and sugar. Maybe funnel cakes or Cinnabons.
So nice to see bright sunny skies instead of the constant grey. He noticed that something else had changed too. He was comfortable and his clothes were no longer felt damp. Many things had changed since his sister’s visit. He kept his eyes shut as the movement continued. Up, up and up a breeze played in his hair as he felt the warmth on his face.
Then, he felt her fingertips intertwined with his. His smile almost split his face. She loved roller coasters and the whole amusement park experience. In fact, they had first met at a Six Flags over Texas, or something like that. There she was. She had been gone for so long. He could almost feel her shoulder rubbing against his as the ride slowed. Almost. But she wasn’t there. Not beside him. Not really.
The car made an abrupt turn and he opened his eyes. He sighed heavily. He was inside. The grey walls of the facility surrounded him as the gurney rolled him back down the hall to his room. His right hand lying still beside the useless right side as it had been since the day he walked into the hospital.
It had been the beginning of the Pandemic and he was having a stroke. By the time they decided he didn’t have Covid, he was paralyzed on half his body. He couldn’t scream his outrage, — And then there came the dreaded feeding tube. He went into a facility and never left. Never made it back to her.
She depended upon him to care for her. Within a year, she was found dead in their home. He had left the Midwest and his family to be with her. She was the only child of parents who themselves were only children. “No matter”, he had said, when her parents died, “I’ll be your family.”
Now with her gone he was the one with no one. He wanted to die. Had tried to, in fact, but they just kept putting that damn tube back in him. Things got better, a bit anyway, when the Hospice people started coming. He had a visitor most days and even pleasure feeding from time to time. OMG, when he tasted the key lime pie yogurt he had felt tears rolling down his face.
Then things got bad. They had been bad for a while. Unable to signal to anyone when he was wet and with no one to watch, he often was left to lie in his own waste for hours. His skin itched and he longed for body lotion and the touch of hands rubbing it on him.
Then she was there. His baby sister. Where had she come from? Did he dream her? Suddenly someone was talking to him, touching him and he got to go outside and see his dog, Cody. How long had it been? Hard to remember, but he thinks the last time he was outside was October. It’s April now. That can’t be right. Is it possible he hadn’t been out of his room for 6 months? Now, there are people noticing him and he gets to go to the community room. Sometimes he watches the TV or listens to music. It’s just good to be around other people.
He hasn’t really changed. His body is still his mind’s prison but now he is more visible. He is being seen. It’s easier to go on these little mental trips when he is dry and clean. And sometimes, like today, his wife Cairren comes to visit with him. Even though he knows she is dead, in these moments she feels more alive than he is.
His feet itch to travel. To go anywhere. To leave this gray room and the prison that is his body. Where to next? He closes his eyes puts his arms around his wife’s shoulders and dreams them far away. They were active members of The Society for Creative Anachronism. He turns his head to face her. She is wearing rich brocades of ruby and purple hues with flowers in her hair. In his mind’s eye, his attire matched the colors of hers. He puts his arm out and feels her hand rest upon it as they walk through a field of luscious green grasses to the Renaissance Faire.
Walking through the grass at the faire. Claude smells “der bangers” and can taste the onions and the mustard. He watches as a juggler tosses a tennis-sized ball into the air. This is followed by a volleyball, then a basketball, and finally, for a grand finale he adds a bowling ball to the mix. Claude laughs at the faces the juggler makes as the weight of the projectiles increases. The wind blows in his hair as he looks at his wife. “I wish” he whispers looking upward. Strange how the sky suddenly darkens and becomes as night. A star appears. A wishing star he thinks ruefully as he smiles. Well, why not? Faint Heart never won fair maid.
His eyes are closed, but he is aware of her hand in his. “Milord,” she says only, but her voice is full and rich of merriment and mischief. Opening his eyes he sees the wreath of flowers rakishly tilting over one blue eye. He reaches out with his hand to right her floral crown and pulls back his hand quickly. Ouch! He looks down to see a bead of blood spreading upon his finger. “Did you prick yourself on an errant thorn?” She says taking his finger and licking the blood off.
Odd, he thinks, sensory experiences are usually lacking in these trips. She moves to reach for some cheese and bread. Then daintily bites a piece before offering a small portion to him. He chews and his mouth waters as the creamy cheese and crusty bread move down his throat. Cairrenn spreads out her cloak and sits making a space beside her for him. She looks up and offers him a skin of wine to drink.
This is. This is different. It is wrong. But no, it feels right. He remembers this from a long time before. He tastes the wine not wanting to end this vivid dream.
Brown eyes met blue eyes. “You are not real.” He says with a sigh. She smiles and takes his hand, holding it firm. “I am as real as you need me to be.” He gorges himself on the food, the drink, on her. From far away he hears a sound on the wind. Tilting his head he thinks, it’s a name, his name. No. His name no longer. He is Lord Robert Talkewell, Philosophical Poet and she’s his lady love. Finally laughing he pulls her to her feet and they run away together hand in hand.
“A complete break,” Dr. Matthews says. “I’ve never seen one come on so suddenly. He is in a dis-associate state. A sort of comma. He may wake up or he may not, right now, we just aren’t sure.” Dr. Mathews looked over at his patient.
“Apparently, wherever he is right now, he is happy. He may choose not to return. Only time will tell.”