He runs down the hall toward the fire door. In the last several weeks since he came here to live, he has lost more than ten pounds. His jeans low-ride with Depends peeking over the top. Normally, frail as he has become, he shuffles along. But a woman is pressing the bar on the fire door. It screams. He runs toward her, shouting, "Hey!" My brother and I don't know if he is running to stop her, or to help her escape. My father's hands are purple from all his pounding on the door to be let out. There are two nurses on duty. Or LPNs. One runs into the hallway just as another man stands from his wheelchair in his continuing attempt to enter a room that is not his. He topples to the floor and cuts his arm. The second nurse runs to the phone to call 911. They cannot pick him up until someone verifies they did not push him. The blood runs down his arm; his face has no affect, no registration of pain, or people. My brother runs after Dad and takes his elbow, leading him back. The alarm wails. There are about fifteen people sitting just the other side of columns demarcating the common room. They watch reruns of a crackling fire on the big screen TV. As my father enters, one man growls at him. Dad growls back. He touches a woman on the arm, gently. She snatches her arm away and snarls, "Don't touch me!" I tell the nurse I am amazed by her. She says it is just her job. Asks if we are ready to leave. She has to take us as we don't know the code to get out. Dad follows to the memory unit door. The alarm is still sobbing. It is Thanksgiving.
Julie Ascarrunz teaches in Colorado, where she earned her MA. Her two sons have almost survived their teens and are in college. She recently adopted a hermit crab named Lemonade.