Through the Eyes of: An Old Lady

She stumbled slightly on the sidewalk. Her old age was slowly eating away her health with each passing day, and every step on the uneven sidewalk sent jolts of pain from the soles of her feet, through her old, slightly bent shins into her tired hips. She pushed lightly against a lamp post, letting out a tired sigh. It had taken her so long to travel from her house to the nearby corner store. She sighed. That short trip used to take her only ten minutes.

Unfolding her chair-walking stick contraption, she took a rest on the sidewalk. She hoped this journey would be worth all this pain. Yes, it definitely would. After all, Mike was visiting her today. She had to make this tiring trip to buy a packet of special spices to make her special stew just the way her son loved it. He hadn't come home to visit her in years, and he had finally called her earlier today, saying he would be back to visit her sometime later that afternoon. If only her memory wasn't so bad, then she would have remembered to buy a packet of those spices during her shopping trip last week.

The streets in this part of town were quiet and lonely, a far cry from what it used to be. Ever since that new mall opened near the city centre, the teenagers and young families chose to spend their weekends and free time in those places. Nobody wanted to taste the beer and ale in Old John's Pub anymore, eat at Chino's Pizza Place, or hit the swing dance floors that used to be so packed and noisy back in her days.

Everything, so bright and colourful in its heyday, had become faded, dull shadows of their previous lives. She remembered when the townsfolk would repaint all the town buildings every two years, so that the buildings would match the fantastic sparkling floats and parades of the state fair; so the town would never look dull. She remembered when little Mike would jump around, asking for a few pennies to spend on games and sweets, and having the pleasurable company of her many friends that lived close by. Then, as time passed, one by one, someone would leave for greener pastures or someone would pass away, and the thriving community shrunk into a pitiful quiet town. It was sad when Mike had left to town; leaving her all alone to watch the town slowly fade as the years passed.

A soft breeze swept along the lonely streets, sweeping her brittle hair across her face and tugged at her knitted scarf, pulling her out of her reverie. She had better get going, or Mike would find nobody home. Slowly, carefully, gently, she pulled herself up and folded her small chair-walking stick. She pulled the stick gingerly forward and took two small steps forward. Again, she pulled her walking stick forward and took another two steps forward. She had to remind herself that the pain in her calves would be worth it.

Suddenly she heard a person calling out to her. She stopped in the middle for the road, looking around to find the source of the voice but her failing sight didn't help her that much. She was aware, though, of a faint roar growing louder and soft honking in the distance. Maybe she had forgotten to replace her hearing aid batteries. That would explain why a car was-

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"What was she doing in this part of town? I haven't seen anyone here in almost fifty years!" a man exclaimed to his partner as they watched the emergency medical team treat the old lady and the driver of the car from the inside their van.

His partner, a short lean woman, pulled a long draught from her cigarette. "Didn't you know? It used to be very populated, up until they shifted the town centre away from here. I still don't know how she managed to escape from the old folk's home."

A look of confusion flashed across his face. He turned to look at his partner, who was flicking the ashes from the cigarette out of her window.

"But why here? Why would she do that?"

Dealing with these questions and an accident was way too stressful for her. She sighed and took another long puff, letting the smoke slowly drift out of her mouth and nose before she answered him. "You're new. Didn't anyone tell you about her on your first day?"

"Tell what?"

"Every year, on this day, she escapes and disappears for three days. Then, she comes back and she's back to normal like nothing ever happened."

"Didn't you know where she went? Like have people tail her, or something?"

"Didn't work. Somehow she manages to give us the slip year after year. And she can't remembers anything when she arrives back at the home so we never know where she goes… until today."

"Do you at least know why she comes here?"

She was silent for a while. The cigarette she was puffing on had already burnt out and only the stub was left. She crushed the stub against the dashboard and tossed it out the window, choosing her words carefully.

"I guess she used to live somewhere here, up until her son passed away on his way to visit. That's what the other old people say. Supposedly he died one of the days she goes missing every year. He died a long time ago in a plane crash, way back before she came to live in the home."

They watched together as the old lady was picked up and stretchered into the ambulance.

"That's just sad." He felt sorry for the old lady.

"Sometimes, some things, you just can't get over." She lit up another cigarette. "Come on, we gotta follow that ambulance anyway." She said, watching as the police cleared up the scene from her passenger seat.

Hopefully, I'll never become like that.