The old woman loved the falling snowflakes. They were big and sparkly and kept fluttering around her, distracting her from the police who came into her home while she was laying on the floor. She had no idea how the officers got into the apartment, and why she couldn’t get up. She must have slipped while walking to the kitchen. She must have tripped over one of her son’s roller skates. He’s so careless.
The wet snowflakes on her wrinkled face triggered a memory of her son as a little boy, bundled in a snowsuit with black goulashes and mittens tied to his sleeves. She often pulled him on his Flexible Flyer along the snowy road with the other children. She watched him slide down the big hill on Penny Way as he laughed and played with his rosy-cheeked friends. She prayed that he didn’t hurt himself on the sled; that he would have the presence of mind to be careful. She worried about her husband coming home in such stormy weather. He was a good driver, but the roads were icy and slick.
The policewoman turned to the back of the patrol car. “Everything will be okay, Mrs. Dowling. You’re going to a wonderful nursing home.”
The old woman didn’t know why the policewoman called her Mrs. Dowling; that’s not her name. Maybe she made a mistake. Perhaps it was the elderly lady with the henna red hair that lived on the next block with the same house number.
Although the old woman was annoyed by the police, she smiled anyway, grinning without teeth, only her gums showing. Her false teeth were floating in a coffee cup on the bedroom dresser. She didn’t think of taking them when the police picked her up from the floor and carried her away. She put up a fight, but the officers were persistent. They kept saying that she couldn’t live by herself anymore; that it was too dangerous, and that she would fare much better with around-the-clock nursing care.
The old woman watched the snowflakes fall and thought that she should have left a note for her husband. She hoped that he would be home soon and that he doesn’t worry about where she is. She worried about her son dressing warm enough and remembering to wear the woolen sweater that she bought for Christmas.
“My son is off from school today, and we’re going sledding,” the old woman said. “My son loves being out in the snow with me.”
The female police officer smiled at Mrs. Dowling. “Your son must be thrilled to have a mother like you,” she said.
“He is,” replied Mrs. Dowling, “he’s with his father now.”
Mrs. Dowling looked out the patrol car window at the falling snowflakes, feeling comforted by the policewoman’s kind words, somehow knowing that her son was all right; that he would slide down the hill like the other kids and reach the bottom safely. She knew that his father, who was off from work, would make sure that their son was okay.
MARK TULIN is a former family therapist who lives in Santa Barbara, California. His poetry often finds richness in the lives of the neglected and disenfranchised. He has a poetry chapbook, Magical Yogis, published by Prolific Press (2017), and upcoming poetry book entitled, Awkward Grace. His work appears in Page and Spine, Fiction on the Web, Amethyst Magazine, Vita Brevis, The Drabble, smokebox, and others. His website is Crow On The Wire.
Image via Pixabay