Welcome to Hell: A Caregiver's Nightmare

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Know Your Audience

“We’re listening.”

“To me? What do you want from me?” I cry, my voice rising. Perhaps I am more afraid that I cared to admit. All I think is, ‘There must have been some mistake…What a weird dream.’

“We’re listening.”

“But I didn’t say anything,” I whisper, while I wonder, ‘Are they listening to my thoughts? Can they do that?’

“We’re listening.”

“Why am I here?”

I wait. Nothing. I consider moving, trying to leave the futon, but I immediately know that would be a bad idea. So far nothing terrible has happened; why chance it? I briefly consider going back to sleep. But I’m not tired. I feel more awake than I have felt in a long time actually. More alive. I feel…well, like how I used to. Before.

“We’re listening.”

“Fine! I will just talk and talk and talk until I say the magic word and you let me go,” I holler. I take a breath and blurt out the next thing that comes to mind, “I saw a dog riding a skateboard once.” I cup my hand over my mouth. But there is no response. “Ha! I have no idea why that just popped into my head, but there it is. Can’t take it back now. Nope, sometimes you just can’t take things back, even if you wish to. What? What was that?” There is nothing.

Hell is deceitful.

“Sorry, I thought you said something,” I say, while thinking, ‘I wish I had my flashlight. All those years of checking the batteries and making sure it’s accessible from my bed in case of an emergency – what a waste. Of course it wouldn’t be here when I actually need it!’

“I don’t like to talk much myself. Honest,” I say, as I keep talking. “Nope, never say anything. They come after me and I don’t say a thing. I just let it happen. That’s what my mom would say: ‘just let it happen.’ Huh, I wonder…I just wonder what she would say to me now. I wonder if this qualifies as a ‘pickle.’ ‘Well you’ve gotten yourself into quite a pickle now, haven’t you?’ she’d ask. And, you know, I always hated when she said that. She was so self-righteous about it. It was…like she knew you were in trouble and she knew exactly how you could get out of trouble but she simply would not stoop to actually sharing the solution with you. She just wanted you to know that she knew you were in trouble.”

Am I in trouble? Are you going to hurt me?” I ask, this time tilting my head up and aiming my voice at where I imagine the PA system would be, in the upper right corner of the room, a holdover from my memories of homeroom announcements in high school.

No answer. At least I’m not disappointed this time. I take a deep breath. “Ok, so you say you’re listening. Alright, here’s a story for you.” I adjust myself again on the futon, settle in.

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