WHY DID I COME HERE?
The Widow Murphy searched her purse. No notes. She searched her arms. Nothing written down there. Pulling up her skirt she leaned over. And ooking at her legs upside down. She noticed that she hadn’t shaved. And there wasn’t any message. Nothing. She looked up. A little too hurriedly. And became dizzy. And sat down in her walker. For a moment. To take a breath. Just to reconsider. She rubbed her head. Memories would not come back to her. There must have been a reason she came shopping. To the mall. On Wednesday. Normally, she avoided Wednesdays. They gave her a headache. Not remembering was giving her a headache. A blinding headache.
The stock boy, young Paul McGregor who was stocking the shelves with an assortment of vitamin pills. Stocking them with his usual flair. Alphabetically. Tapping his toe. To the song that came over the intercom. Shaking his head. Which did not affect his eyesight. He could see the old woman. Sitting in her walker. Looking like she turning into stone.
“Are you alright?” he asked. “You’re so grey.”
The old lady looked up at the young man standing in front of her. His face kept spinning around in front of her. Like her unmentionables. In the dryer. That cost her a dollar. Last time she was in the Laundromat.
“Of course I’m not okay,” she barked, attempted to stand up, found herself dizzy, and sat back down again.
“Can I help you?” Paul asked. Moved his hand to reach for. Her elbow.
“If you can tell me what I forgot.” She rubbed her temples. Thinking. Maybe there was something squirreled up in her head. Like a squirrel.
“How could I do that?” Paul asked. Realizing that the old woman’s statement was rhetorical.
“Exactly.” The widow angrily pushed her walker passed the stock boy and down the aisle to the cashier. She cut in front of several customers who were waiting in line. Bea, the cashier, looked at her angrily. Like two bulls. Kicking up dirt. Snorting fire.
“You have to wait your…” she began.
“Why am I here?” the widow asked.
Bea looked at her. There was a wild desperate look in the Widow’s eyes. Bea shook her head. A tear began to run down the widow’s face. Bea had no answer for the old woman.
The man, called Everest, who was standing nearby, stepped up to lend a hand. Always helpful. What was called a nosy Parker.
“That is a question we all have to ask ourselves in the tangle of time,” he said knowingly.
The widow looked at Everest with distain.
“Did I ask you something?” she barked.
“And take that stupid grin off your face,” the widow added. “It makes you look like a moron. Unless of course you are a moron.”
Wearily the widow moved her walker out of the drug store. Two girls, air cadets, were asking for donations.
“Are you alright?” the one called Luiza asked.
The widow turned to the two girls.
“I came a long way to get here this morning. I want to know why I came here. And now I’m leaving empty handed. It’s given me a terrible headache.”
Luiza shrugged her shoulders. Her friend, Madeleine, smiled and asked.
“Would you like to buy a tag saying you donated money to the air cadets?”
Madeleine held up one of the tags for the widow to examine.
The widow aimed her walker at the girl forcing Madeleine to jump out of the way as the widow moved on. She asked everyone she met. No answer was forthcoming. She leaned on her walker and stared across Bloor Street. When the traffic subsided she headed across the street and down Botfield Avenue towards home. A half hour later she stepped inside her house and struggled up the few steps to her kitchen. She sat down at the kitchen table, exhausted. And there it was.
An empty aspirin bottle.