- Make the Angel
ginny presses a button and the head of her bed comes up. “We should shovel before it gets too heavy,” she says to the aide with the bangs.
The aide nods, arranges pillows, fluffs Ginny’s hair with a pick, pulls the blankets up and presses them down across Ginny’s chest. She looks Ginny right in the face. “Okay?” she says, and Ginny gives her best smile.
“You know she gets paid to do that,” Jane says when the aide is gone. “They act nice but they want us to go. More space, new faces.”
Ginny looks at Jane talking from the other bed. Light black skin. White hair shorn close to her head. Mouth opening and closing like a fish. Ginny closes her eyes and sees a goldfish spinning in a toilet—her toilet, in the house she had shared with her husband. Her dog from the early years, Maury, looks up at her. His face says, Can’t I eat that?
“Get paid pretty good to rush us out,” Jane says.
“Out,” Ginny says, and behind her eyes, she opens the back door of the house. It is winter, and Maury runs through snow toward the frozen pond. Ginny follows on a shoveled path. She watches Maury: wolfish, long legs, [End Page 164] lean haunches, his tail up like a shark’s fin in the snow. Big teeth. Her husband, Pat, swore he really was half wolf, and Ginny marvels that the dog hasn’t killed them. Because he so easily could. But no, he wags his tail, his tongue hanging out between his teeth. He waits for her on the path.
“Tax dollars,” Jane says.
“Wild,” Ginny says. A wild animal in our midst, Ginny used to say. But Maury was no more dangerous than anyone. No more dangerous than herself. She had wanted to kill Pat sometimes—when he came into the kitchen and said, “What are we eating?” she’d wanted to stab him with the knife she was holding. But she never did. Pat died twelve years ago, but she hadn’t done it to him. “We loved each other,” she says.
“You’ve really lost it,” Jane says.
Their feet make small peaks in the blankets.
the building is as big as a cruise ship. Lights go out at 9 p.m. An aide comes around to do it, but it happens so fast they can’t tell who it is.
“Dark,” Ginny says.
“All right,” Jane says. “Good night.”
Ginny drifts in and out of dreams. “What a good boy you are,” she mumbles.
Jane lies awake most of the night because of the pain. Not pain. Discomfort. She is uncomfortable. She moves one leg and then tries the other—it’s the bum leg that’s the problem, the leg where it all started.
She’ll get her legs going and then move back downstairs where they’ll at least help you into a wheelchair. So you can see the sights, ha ha. But really, she liked to sit in the day room, by the window, and watch the people come and go from the parking lot. Cars edging out of spots, moving through the lot and away, the blurred reflection of the building sliding off of roofs and trunks. Once she watched her son get out of his car—a surprise visit, and rare because he lives six hours away, in D.C. He opened the back so little Mia could climb out. Patent-leather shoes first, green tights and maroon jumper, her braids all done up with matching bobbles.
Her son, Bob, said something to Mia, something like, “Don’t go anywhere,” and leaned into the backseat. Mia put a hand on the car as if to better obey. She swayed a foot in front of her, maybe to a little song in her head. Bob pulled out a bouquet of flowers, and they turned to the building, both looking up, Bob taking Mia’s hand in his. It made Jane so happy to watch them when they weren’t thinking of her, or were thinking of her less. Because when they...