She had made it forty-three years, six months and fifteen days. Hope still eluded her. She emptied another bedpan into the dilapidated toilet and returned it to its owner. How the hell did she end up here? She’d recently concluded that it would never change.

She’d started as a CNA as soon as she graduated. The pay was fair at the time and they provided her with free training. Those wages lost their luster over time. Hopes of pursuing a LPN or RN license were long depleted. There was no hope. She could work elsewhere, but would only find the same low wages.

She’d believed that she was destined to do something great. There was going to be something amazing and miraculous in her life. She never realized her future would be nothing more than bedpans and geriatric struggles. She’d tried every avenue imaginable to get that house. It just wouldn’t happen.

The White House, she’d come to call it. A beautiful Federal building that was renovated in the 1920s and again in the 1970s. The addition of Art Deco architecture made the home unique. All she’d wanted for twenty of those years was to live there. Life would be so perfect in that house, unlike anything else in the world. She knew it.

She dreamed of the house every night. She walked up to the massive porch with the gray concrete floor. The reoccurring dream only reinforced her belief for a long time that she would someday be the owner. Why else would the home’s image linger in her brain’s haunted recesses? She was destined to have it. It was a belief time had tarnished. She would not have that house, or even get to see the inside. How many times had she parked there and walked around outside? It was often for sale. It seemed answers for everything waited for her inside, answers she would never see.

Once the early cleaning was done, it was time to medicate. She’d grown to know the names of prescription medication as though they were individuals. The patients were her family and the other staff was the distant, troublemaking relatives. Life perpetuated there. It continued, well preserved, well worn, tattered and fading as she stood. Life was not about vibrancy and vitality as much as existence and preservation. Did we cheat death another day?

She’d wanted a family, a nice house, and a stable life. She should’ve at least had an opportunity. She hadn’t. There was no opportunity. There was no opportunity for anything. She was alone in the aged world around her.

There was no beauty in this life, only death and decay. There was no hope. She looked down at the open pharmacy drawer. After such a void and vacant life, how many of those things would she need? How many pills to prolong that wasted void of a life? She knew it was inevitable. When work had wasted everything and she had nothing, who would care for her?

She had to get out. The walls were closing in on her. She closed the drawer and left the room. She walked outside and caught her breath. It wasn’t far enough. The smell of death still followed her. It clung to her clothes like smoke and ash.

She drove madly to the White House. How could she live if she would never have that home? The realtor wasn’t there, no one was there, and she needed hope. She got out and returned to the porch she was so accustomed to.

It should be her porch.

It should be her drive and her home.

A piece of rope hung from the near-by shed. There was a way, wasn’t there? There was a way this would be her home forever. She pulled the siding from the ceiling near the front door. Oh, yes, it would be her home. The house was just like her, after all. Worn and tattered, owners came and left with no regard for anything. She looped the rope around the support beam above, and then around her neck. She looked down and leapt from the chair. The house belongs to me.

 

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