<<set $memories = $memories +1>>When I was younger I liked to stand before the mirror for a moment each morning and assess the pimples and later the wrinkles that slowly transformed my skin. Now the mirror is always hazy and I don't spare it a glance anymore, knowingthat my body has stabilized, sagged into a new comfort with the forces of gravity, and there's nothing to change or push into place or worry about anymore.\n\nI turn back to the [[list|big list]].
I turn around and face the door. The name reads "Kathy Goldsmith." <<if $memories gte 6>>I know that name. My name, but not my house.<<else>>I don't recognize it. Where am I?<<endif>>\n\nI [[turn]] <<cyclinglink $direction "right" "left">>.
<<if $didrecall eq "shirt that my daughter gave me">><<set $memories = $memories + 1>>She brought it the last time she visited--no, the last time she came home from school. She said it matched my eyes.<<endif>> <<display "daughter">>\n\nI feel a stirring in my stomach. I'm probably <<cyclinglink "hungry" "sick" "dying">>. I should eat something. \n\nThe kitchen is a fridge that comes up to my waist and a one-pot stove. The pot is encrusted with the remains of some cooking project. <<if $memories lte 4>>That was probably Steve making a late night snack and forgetting to clean. I should let him sleep.<<else>>Steve used to cook, but I never do. How did that pot get dirty?<<endif>> I look at the pot and the sink and the dismal contents of the fridge and decide to [[go out for breakfast|door]].
[[I am asleep|wake]]\n\n<<set $cyles = 1>>\n<<set $memories = 0>>\n<<set $pills = "no">>
I turn left--no, right--and go out the only door with glass windows, and I'm in the yard. My tree isn't here. Where's my daughter? I remember...<<display "daughter">> \n\n<<if $memories lte 5>>Where's Steve?<<else>>If only Steve were here.<<endif>> But none of the faces look familiar and there's a [[man in a white collared shirt]] who looks too strong and too angry to be from my neighborhood.
I open the <<print $day>> tab. <<if $day eq "Monday" || $day eq "Tuesday" || $day eq"Wednesday">>The pillbox is already empty. I must have taken them and forgotten. I am still so tired.<<endif>><<if $day eq "Thursday" || $day eq "Friday" || $day eq "Saturday" || $day eq "Sunday">><<set $pills = "yes">>I don't want to take them. My head is already swimming and my hands are shaky as I grab the glass of water. I pull the red and blue and pink and white mix of different sized pills and swallow them down.<<endif>> I turn to the [[shower]].
As I let the too-cold water beat down on my wrinkled skin I feel hands around my waist pulling me in, and for a moment I am warm and young and [[Steve]] is joking about people who wake up too early even when they are retired.
Strong arms grab me around frail shoulders, an a voice murmurs in my ear, "Let's not upset the others." I've never heard this man before and I don't know what he means upset the others, most of the wrinkled shells around us seem content to stay parked on their benches, eyes fixed on the ground, not even looking. [[I could scream]] and they wouldn't care.
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I am asleep
My Town\n
Faces [[fade]] around me.
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I plod to the bathroom, my slippers swishing with every step. There's a calendar on the wall next to my [[bathroom mirror]] but it doesn't have pictures, only a [[big list]] over a grid of days, each marked with an X up until today: Wednesday.\n
I step outside but I'm not outside, I'm in a [[hallway]] with too many white doors and they all look the same, but with big names on the front of each, names I don't recognize.
I remember that movie my daughter liked but I didn't with that smiling actor with his crazy eyes--Carol, Clooney, Carrie, something like that--he thought he was going mad but it was everyone else who was lying, telling him they were real when they weren't.\n\nThis man has <<cyclinglink "crazy eyes" "Steve's eyes" "my daughter's eyes" "my eyes" end>>. [[I run.|run]]
There's a note on my door laminated with big letters:\n\n"Turn <<cyclinglink "right" "left" "back">>, go out the door at the end of the hallway, turn <<cyclinglink "left" "right" "back">>."\n\nI don't know why there's a sign like that in my house, I've lived here all my life and there's no hallway [[outside my front door]], only a few stairs leading down to a path to the driveway past [[my orange tree]].
The [[light]] shining through my window wakes me, pushing at my [[eyelids]] until I cave, opening them, staring at the gap between the curtains that betrayed me to the [[sun's beams|light]].
<<set $memories = $memories+1>>The tree in my yard <<cyclinglink "smells like oranges even when they aren't in season" "doesn't look like it has ever borne a fruit" "is barren and brown like Steve's skin">>, <<cyclinglink "with green leaves that feel like plastic and gleam in the Florida sun" "with leaves that are spiky and cruel that I wouldn't want to touch" "with bark that presses sharply into my fingertips">>. The grass below it [[doesn't grow anymore|hallway]]. <<if $memories gte 5>>I scattered Steve's ashes under that tree.<<endif>>
I pull on my loose sweatpants and a flowing <<cyclinglink $didrecall "silk shirt" "polyester shirt" "shirt that probably isn't silk but something manufactured from a devastated rain forest but it feels soothing" "shirt that my daughter gave me" end>> and its color makes me feel more [[alive]].\n\n
<<if $memories lte 2>>My daughter...she's off in camp right now. Sleepaway camp, Steve said it would be good for her. Builds character. But there's no phones, that's why she hasn't called.<<endif>><<if $memories lte 4 && $memories gt 2>>My daughter...I don't know where she is now. Why isn't she here? Why hasn't she called? Doesn't she know I'm all alone here? <<endif>><<if $memories gte 5>>My daughter, that's why I'm here. She left me here. Took the money and left me here to rot.<<endif>>
The pillbox is labeled with the days of the week. I [[open the box]] for the day marked <<cyclinglink $day "Monday" "Tuesday" "Wednesday" "Thursday" "Friday" "Saturday" Sunday">>
I shuffle [[out of bed]] and stick on my <<cyclinglink "green" "gray" "blue">> fuzzy house [[slippers]] over wrinkled skin and chipped toenails.
I start reading the list:\n\n1. Take your pills\n2. Take a shower\n3. Eat breakfast\n\nIt's already too much to remember. I look down and see my [[pillcase]] on the sink.
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I close my eyes and feel the embrace of water and memory. When I open my eyes, the stall is empty, my husband is <<cyclinglink "gone" "forgotten" "missing" "dead">> and there's only the warmth of a [[towel]] for comfort.
"Hello Kathy," a calm voice interrupts before I make it too far down the hallway. I turn and see a man. I don't know him but he's smiling. He reminds me of [[someone my daughter liked.|someone]]
<<set $memories = $memories + 1>>\nI like to wait before I open my eyes, drawing it out until the last moment, seeing my own face among the [[light]] patterns on the back of my eyelids. Not my face now, but my face younger, astride a horse, blue eyes looking ahead to an ever-closer horizon.
Anastasia Salter
I do <<cyclinglink "scream" "cry out" "wimper" end>>, though it's a weak sound, and no one turns but the other young people: a conspicuous young man standing outside his shop, a young woman who'd been chasing leaves across the lawn with a rake. They stop, and watch us, even as the man reminds me to "[[Calm down]]."
<<set $memories = $memories + 1>>My daughter got me those slippers, one trip out to the mall, lecturing me about the dangers of catching a chill at my age. What's my age got to do with anything, I wanted to say, and since when is she the one lecturing me? [[I took the slippers|out of bed]].\n\n<<display 'daughter'>>\n