Another Day in the Retirement of Me.

Episode 5: Family Day. (Part 1)

Sonita walked bravely into the lobby of the Anoka County Retirement Home after a week of recovering from the fiasco downtown—as her parents had dubbed it. She noticed with mild amusement that the receptionist looked surprised to see her again. She had heard rumor that this was the longest that anyone had stayed in the program with Rachel. It was actually kind of sad that no one could stand the old woman for more than two weeks.

Today she would have it easy, though, because today was family day. The day when all the retirees families would stop by to say hello and see how their loved ones were doing. She could just sit back and let the old woman’s real family deal with her… quirks. She stepped confidently into the cafeteria to see many families laughing together and reuniting.

She scanned the room quickly and caught sight of Katy and Stacey by the windows. She hastened over to them. The two old women were in high spirits, grinning cheekily as they looked at pieces of art proffered to them by young children and chatted with younger adults.

Sonita stopped short of actually approaching them and looked around at the people nearby, a small frown on her face. She cautiously got closer and waited until the conversation ebbed.

"Excuse me, but where is Rachel? I thought she would be with you." Sonita said quickly, wanting to get on with her day.

"Well," Stacey replied cautiously, "If she isn’t harassing people at the entrance then she’s probably up in her room."

"Oh," Sonita said and then hesitantly added, "Isn’t she… I mean, I thought she would have family here today."

Katy snorted, "Her son-in-law is an absolute coward, refuses to let the grandkids come visit."

"He never did get over that chainsaw on his second date," Stacey added with a far away look on her face.

"So her family doesn’t visit?" Sonita asked with wide eyes, "That’s so sad!"

Katy and Stacey both shrugged. "She doesn’t seem to mind too much," Katy said, "She likes torturing other families just as much as her own."

"You probably won’t want to visit her now," Stacey added, "She’s in a fouler mood than usual. I think all the love makes her sick."

Sonita didn’t heed Stacey’s warning, though, moved by pity as only idealistic young girls who have forgotten certain flame-thrower incidents can. She excused herself and went up to Rachel’s room—234, Green, if you remember.

Only when she was actually standing before the door did she think to hesitate, remembering her first meeting with the old woman and the headache she had had for days afterwards. Pushing aside her fear, the girl bravely knocked on the door, imagining that the poor woman must be broken up to be all alone on this day.

"What do you want?" The harsh reply came.

"Er, it’s me, Sonita," Sonita replied, once again finding herself reluctant to enter. That didn’t sound at all like the heartbroken, forgotten woman she had been expecting.

"Well go away!" The voice snapped after a brief silence.

Sonita frowned, "I’m not going to go away," she said stubbornly, "I came all the way down here so I’m going to visit with someone."

"I think Katy’s downstairs. Go visit with her." The reply was.

"I don’t want to visit with Katy," Sonita said hotly, "I want to visit with you." It was mostly a lie but it seemed to work as there wasn’t any reply.

Slowly, Sonita turned the doorknob. The room inside was very dark and it didn’t look like anyone was home. Frowning with confusion she shut the door behind herself with a click and stepped further into the small room. Once fully inside she saw light shining from under a door on the left and walked over to knock on it.

Her knock sounded loud in the deathly quiet room, but the two taps were immediately followed by the sound of something falling. Or, rather, lots of somethings falling. Lots and lots of small somethings. It sounded almost like rats running across a tile floor. Sonita cringed when the door was pulled open in front of her and there stood an irate looking old woman, her eyes perfectly dry but shining with anger.

"Er, did I… disrupt something?" Sonita asked carefully, looking around the woman to see hundreds of toothpicks scattered all over the bathroom floor.

"Only the most important thing since rubber chickens were invented!" Rachel shouted, brandishing her walking stick, "Look at this mess! And I was so close to finishing! Why do you kids always have to destroy everything?"

Sonita took several steps back, holding up her hands in a peaceful gesture, "Look, I’m sorry for messing up your… thing. I just thought you might be lonely, what with your family hating you and all." She didn’t even realize what she had said until after she said it.

Rachel looked even angrier, if possible. Where before she had resembled a volcano preparing to blow, shaking with anticipation for the inevitable destruction, now she was spouting fire and raining ashes, a veritable natural disaster released on an unsuspecting population. Sonita didn’t know it was possible for someone to look so angry.

When the old woman spoke her voice was low and quiet, and her words carried the unspoken fear of an assassin standing right behind you. "MY family does not hate me," she whispered, "They fear me, like any rational person would, but they don’t hate me. Even my idiot of a Bret doesn’t hate me—he’s too afraid of me to hate me. Just because I threatened to cut him apart on his second date with my daughter he thinks I’m a danger to the children. He’s the reason I’m here in the first place and if I ever see him again it’ll be more than threats I give him…" Her eyes which had begun to wander in her monologue snapped back onto Sonita.

"Now what was it you wanted?" She demanded.

Sonita stared with wide eyes, easily putting two and two together from what she had heard from the others earlier. She gulped self-consciously, "I just, er, thought you might like some company… maybe now isn’t a good time…?" She slowly started to back away towards the door.

Faster than you could say "I have a cat and it has monkeys and the monkeys have rice" Rachel’s cane had snapped out to block her escape. Her eyes narrowed, "No. Now is a perfect time, Soapbox." Her wrinkled old hand jumped out to grab Sonita’s wrist, "You must help me finish what you destroyed."

Sonita yelped as she was pulled into the bathroom—Rachel was a lot stronger than she looked—and the door was slammed behind her. "Er, okay," the girl said hesitantly, feeling more than a little cramped in the small space, "What are we making?"

"I was almost done with a model of the Titanic when you so rudely interrupted me," Rachel said, shoving a bottle of glue and some toothpicks at the girl, "Now get gluing."

Sonita looked at the pile of toothpicks and groaned before a sharp glare from Rachel sent her to work.

Join us next time for the exciting conclusion of Another Day in the Retirement of Me! Will Rachel and Sonita complete their to-scale toothpick model of the Titanic? Has Rachel finally cracked? Will the coward of a son-in-law, Bret, finally grow a primitive resemblance of a backbone? The world may never know… But you will learn all when the Great Me returns in the next exciting, action-packed installment of… okay, enough of this. See ya.

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