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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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GRANDE VILLE D’IDLE


by M.J. Iuppa



 

It seems to be working out for Winifred Reule, home health caregiver. She arrives at work, every day at the same time.  The bus is never late.  The Park-1 caterpillars down Lake Avenue in gassy shudders and stops.  Before Winifred dozes off, the bus arrives at her home: Grande Ville d’ldle.  The bus driver smiles in his mirror—bright teeth, and nods at Winifred. Have a good night, he says as she drifts from her seat to the three steps descending to the curb where she stands for a moment.  Wind ruffles her sandy-gray hair.  She sees herself pull away in the bus’s closed doors.  She looks across the street to the  driveway leading to the home’s side door  with its yellow light glowing.  She knows the way, and starts across the street to begin her shift.


Everything is happening and nothing is happening at Grande Ville d’ldle. Winifred likes this.  It’s clockwork. The residents are fixed in their places from morning to night to the next day. Dust never moves, nor does the smell of pee and bacon fat. There is little resistance.  Winifred likes this.  She hangs up her wool coat on the hook, puts her square black purse in the hallway drawer, and sighs. Not a disappointed  sigh, but one of satisfaction.  This is her place, quiet and restful, like her watery blue eyes. Winifred gets ready for the night and goes up the back stairway.


At the second landing, in the corner room, is Winifred’s last stop.  Winifred peeks around the door and sees Mildred on her queen size bed, wrapped in a goldenrod afghan made by members of knitters-in-paradise. Mildred looks cozy.  Her eyes are closed; her chin against her chest’s slow breath.  Winifred touches Mildred’s bony shoulder. It’s time, Millie, she whispers.  Mildred wakes up sweetly.  Never a fuss.  Winifred guides her to a rock maple high-back chair.  Once settled in the chair, Winifred takes a length of twine hidden in the lower drawer of the dresser and ties Mildred to the chair.

 

Okay, Millie, Winifred says, keep an eye on the door.  Millie’s head wobbles a bit, but she stares in the right direction. Meanwhile, Winifred smooths the sheets, straightens the blankets and plumps the pillow. Good night, Millie, Winifred says as she slips off  her stiff white shoes, sighing as she finds her spot in the center of the bed.

 

Within seconds, light snores tremble in the quiet and Millie smiles wanly at Winifred, knowing the knots are loose enough so she can get free.