'I’m going to roll down the deck,’ Edith wailed. ‘I’m going to go overboard. The wheelchair is made of metal. It’s heavy. I’m going to sink to the bottom of the sea.'
'Don’t be silly. There are brakes. See here.’ Nancy pressed the oily lever in and out and showed how she could stop it on the edge of a coin – at the cost of a hard halt. ‘There are guardrails. I would never do anything to hurt you.'
After some hesitation she decided it was best to move on, but Edith’s upper body fell forward. The next thing Nancy knew, Edith was screaming, grabbing halfway around herself at nothing.
'Help me!' she cried out to by-passers. ‘Help me! Please!’
The looks of misgiving were too much for Nancy to cope with. Hadn’t Dr Haas tried to talk her out of it? Wasn’t he a specialist in gerontology?
A Can of Sunshine
The great danger of lying is not that lies are untruths, and thus unreal, but that they become real in other people's minds. They escape the liar's grip like seeds let loose in the wind, sprouting a life of their own in the least expected places, until one day the liar finds himself contemplating a lonely but nonetheless healthy tree, grown off the side of a barren cliff. It has the capacity to sadden him as much as it does to amaze. How could that tree have got there? How does it manage to live? It is extraordinarily beautiful in its loneliness, built on a barren untruth, yet green and very much alive.
I was dumbfounded. Instead of a living, snarling, thrashing creature, all I found was an inoffensive sausage. Behind the sausage, dangled two meatballs, larger than Swedish meatballs yet smaller than stuffed tomatoes, inside a mitten of raw chicken skin. It did not look as appetizing as I in my most nagging moments of hunger had dreamt. Was it an outgrowth of former life, an intestinal casing filled with chicken, beef and pork? So I had been accurate in my hunches all long, man grows sausage links.
Edith and she took each other in as they stood long and still. She was unsettled to see an old lady in a furry coat, smelling of lavender in fusty, wallpapered drawers; her bunions pressing out of her worn beige pumps; her mascara giving each of her bleached blue eyes a sad smear for the few clumpy eyelashes; her mouth pressed in as if she had no more lips, just pained eyes. Just an old lady grieving the loss of her only son. What made the moment worse was that she could tell from the minute movements of Edith’s eyes – not exactly the movements, but the tiny flitting of light within – that what she was seeing as she stood there not blinking was a woman alone in the world, without protection, forlorn and miserable, just like herself.
A Can of Sunshine