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Nathanial stood at the end of the bed watching Mrs. Johnson cry. She had been crying nonstop for hours. He tried to comfort her, but she kept staring at the window. Nathanial was one of the nurses at Sunnydale Nursing Home. He had been one of her caretakers ever since she was placed in the nursing home by her granddaughter several weeks back. She had Alzheimer’s and every morning she woke up screaming and then cried for several hours. He felt sorry for her. She had no visitors. He hadn’t seen her granddaughter once since she had her committed. He knew little about her life.
“Help,” Mrs. Johnson struggled to say.
“Mrs. Johnson, it’s Nathanial. I’m here.”
“Not supposed to be here,” she said with tears streaming down her cheeks. “I don’t belong here.”
Several Weeks Earlier
Claire Johnson sat on her front porch watching the neighborhood kids playing catch in the streets. A hummingbird was busy checking out her flowers next to her. Her white cat, Maisey, sat on her lap. She slowly stroked her fur. She purred in contempt. Claire watched as a beat up, red Dodge Neon pulled into her driveway. Maisey hissed at the car. She sensed there was trouble. When Claire’s granddaughter Annabelle was around there was always trouble.
“Grandma,” Annabelle said with a fake smile.
“What do you want this time?”
“Can’t a girl visit her grandma?”
“You only stop by when you need money or something,” Claire said with a suspicious look.
Maisey hissed at her.
“I love you too,” Annabelle said and flipped her off.
“I’ll show Maisey some proper affection when she shows me hers.”
“Why are you here?” Claire asked, getting impatient.
“You are living here all alone in this big two story house.”
“You are not moving in with me!”
“I would never live in the same house as you. I’m just saying you are all alone. Anything can happen and you have nobody here in case of an emergency.”
“I have Life Alert.”
“Like I was saying,” she said, annoyed that her grandmother had cut her off. “I heard of this place where senior citizens like yourself live together and do things like read, play bingo, do crafts and such.”
“A nursing home!” Claire yelled.
The kids in the street stopped playing catch and watched anticipating a big fight.
“You don’t need to be living in such a big place. At your age you need constant care. Sunnydale can provide that.”
“I don’t need constant care! I can still see enough to drive myself anywhere I want to go! You need money again for drugs, don’t you? You want to sell my house!”
“I know what’s best for you,” she said, walking back to her car. “One way or another, you’re going to Sunnydale.”
“Over my dead, rotting carcass!”
“If that’s the way you prefer,” Annabelle said and drove away.
Maisey rubbed her head against Claire’s chin.
“I love you too, Maisey.”
Later on that day, Claire sat in the Subway at Mega-Mart talking with all of her friends. Every day they would all meet up there to talk. Hubert sat wearing his red flannel shirt and overalls. He looked like an eighty year old version of Larry the Cable Guy.
“What’s a matter, Claire?” he asked.
“My granddaughter wants to put me in a nursing home. I know she wants my house.”
“I don’t know how you ended up with such an evil granddaughter. My two grandkids come over all the time and bring me drawings they made at school. They are both great artists,” Hubert said.
“If my grandkids ever try to put me in a home, they will meet the end of my shotgun,” Ted, who was sixty and the youngest of the group, said.
“Kids today have no respect,” Millie said. She sat at the end of the table knitting a sweater for her Dachshund, never looking up.
“They have no manners,” Hubert added.
“I don’t know what my granddaughter is thinking. Do I look like somebody that belongs in a nursing home?” Claire asked.
“Aren’t you too young for a nursing home?” Ted asked.
“Always a flirt,” Millie said.
“Ya, you two should get a room,” Hubert said and laughed.
“I suggest you get a dog. I suggest getting a pit bull,” Ted said.
“Maisey would kill a pit bull with one swipe of her left paw,” Claire said.
“That’s one mean cat,” Hubert said. “Don’t let your granddaughter push you around. It’s your house.”
“Trust me, I won’t.”
The next morning Claire woke up and walked into her study and checked her emails. Annabelle had sent her a link to the website for Sunnydale. She deleted it without even opening it. Maisey walked into the room and jumped onto her lap. She stood up, putting her front paws on the keyboard.
“Annabelle doesn’t give up. Want to watch some cat videos on YouTube?”
Maisey purred in excitement.
Later on after all her friends left Subway to head back home, Millie talked to her in private. “I was talking to my sister about your granddaughter and the nursing home. She gave me this piece of paper.”
“What’s this?” she asked, looking at the strange paper. “Is this a poem?”
“She said when you’re in distress because of your granddaughter, touch her and recite this passage. Your troubles will be taken care of.”
“Is this witchcraft?”
“I don’t think so. Maybe it’s some sort of insult that only us elderly will understand.”
“Ok, just for fun,” Claire said and put the paper in her left pocket. “I’ll see you tomorrow. I better go get Maisey some food before I head home. I have a coupon for Fancy Feast.”
As Claire was down the street from her house, she could see her granddaughter’s Neon in her driveway. She pulled into her driveway. Maisey was standing in front of the door scratching it. Claire got out of her car and walked fast toward the front door.
“What is she doing in there?”
Maisey looked up at her.
“You’re worried, too.”
She opened the door and walked in. Annabelle was holding measuring tape, checking the dimensions of the living room wall.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“Checking to see if there is enough room in here for my couch.”
“This is my house! I want you to leave now!”
“You’ve lived here long enough. It’s time for a change. Out with the old and in with the new.”
“I want you out of here by the count of five!”
Claire grabbed the piece of paper out of her pocket and walked over to her.
“What? You want to fight old woman? I have no problems fighting an old geezer such as you!”
Claire grabbed her arm and recited what was on the paper. They both started to glow. A few seconds later, Claire’s vision cleared and she was looking straight at herself. It looked like she was looking into a mirror, but there was no mirror in her living room. She looked at her arms and they were the arms of a twenty year old. The elderly version of herself looked at her in horror.
“What the hell did you just do? This isn’t my body…” Annabelle began to say, but was having a hard time talking. Her mind was going and she was confused. She mumbled something and sat down on one of the chairs. All she could do was stare at the ceiling and cry.
Claire walked into the bathroom and stood in front of the mirror. She hadn’t looked this beautiful in years. She no longer had the long gray hair. She had shiny blonde hair. She had a perfect slim body.
“Beauty is wasted on the youth,” she said.
Maisey walked over to her and rubbed her leg.
“You still recognize me,” Claire said and picked her up. She walked into the living room and placed her on Annabelle’s lap. Maisey hissed at her.
“You’re right. Sunnydale will be the perfect place to spend the rest of my days. I mean yours,” she said with a smile.