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Home (standard:Psychological fiction, 1627 words)
Author: Peter EbsworthAdded: Aug 25 2003Views/Reads: 2026/1387Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
An old woman lives in a nursing home believing that she is 40 years younger and still living at home with her husband and children. Her son regularly comes to visit although she no longer recognises him. On this one occasion her delusion coincides with hi
 



HOME by Peter Ebsworth 

Ruth Webster paused at the end of the pathway that led to the porch of
her fifties built wood-clad home and sighed with pleasure. For some 
reason today, she felt like she had been away for weeks, even months, 
not just the few hours serving tables at the Twin City Diner, followed 
by picking up some ‘have-to-get' groceries. The house wasn't grand or 
fancy, the wooden window frames needed painting and one or two of the 
slatted shutters no longer hung true, but it was home. The pain from 
her knees and ankles, dull but deep, made her feel far older than her 
thirty-five years as she walked down the path and climbed the steps to 
her door. It'd be good to get in and put her feet up for ten minutes 
before the boys got back from school. When she inserted the tarnished 
gold key into the Yale lock she noticed that the hand holding it seemed 
too narrow, the skin speckled and loose, someone else's hand. Concern 
furrowed her brow but melted away, her hand forgotten, as she entered 
the pastel shades of the hallway. Creams and harvest golds creating a 
light warmth of welcome. 

‘Groceries away first Ruth Webster' she thought as she headed towards
the kitchen,    ‘ but get that kettle on ready for after.' Entering the 
kitchen, she headed straight for the chromed electric kettle, which was 
standing where it always did, on the wall end of the breakfast bar, 
next to the power socket. Renewed complaints from her tired legs, made 
her gasp and clutch the edge of the work surface, in case they gave way 
under her. Once the pain eased back a little, she carried on to the 
kettle, testing the weight to make sure there was enough water, then 
plugging it in. From the overhead cupboard she got down her favourite 
cup, the one her sister had bought at a flea market and claimed was 
real English bone china but with a flaw in the glaze, spooned in some 
instant coffee then waited for the water to heat. 

Something was troubling her, the frown returned. 

‘There was something I meant to do, but what?' Then it came. ‘the
groceries.' 

She looked round the room. 

There were no groceries. 

For a moment she was truly frightened by her increasing lapses in
concentration, but then it past as her mind was distracted by the sound 
of boiling water. Steam funnelled up the spout in that energetic, 
slightly threatening way that demanded immediate attention. Clicking 
off the wall switch, she poured the still bubbling water into her cup 
then went to get the milk from the white enamelled Hotpoint fridge that 
her dad and mom had bought her when she married Frank. There was too 
much play in the grey plastic door handle; its movement was sloppy and 
slack. Billy was the problem, now that he could reach the handle. But 
only just. He practically swung from the door when he went on a snack 
raid. Frank would grin, as Billy tumbled backwards on tiptoe, the 
released door swinging him out over the smooth linoleum. But the bill 
for having a new handle fitted will take the smile away. 

Inside the fridge was the usual jumble of cheese, eggs, cardboard milk
cartons, cold meats as well as a whole fresh chicken for Sunday lunch. 
Nestled among the recognisable items were various little packages 
wrapped in oven foil. Little bits of this and that left over from 
previous meals and snacks. She suddenly felt impatient with the foolish 
way she saved these items too only ever throw them away eventually. 
Fridge door held open with her shoulder, she gathered all the silver 
bundles into a pile held against her stomach, in the same way that she 
had held the apples she picked in her uncle's orchard when she was a 
girl. Behind her the door swung closed as she went over to the blue 
plastic waste bin, allowing the little scrap parcels to tumble in. 

Protests came from all over her body now, including her wrists,
reminding her that she still hadn't rested since getting home. She left 
the kitchen heading for the living room, the coffee left lazily 
steaming on the breakfast bar. 

* 

“ That's it Ruth, keep going its only a little further.” 


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