Podcast of this Chapter
Elsie’s thin hand pressed the afghan into a tight space between her leg and the wheelchair arm. Her sister had crocheted it, this green and orange thing, her lifeline to the outside.
“Ready to go back?” A staccato voice.
“Eat your dessert this time?”
“Good girl. Want me to push you?”
Her soft blue eyes shifted. “I can do it.”
“Good girl. It’s important you take care of yourself some.
Elsie released the brake, carefully, one wheel and the other, slowly, not to betray herself. Back from the table, aim at the door.
“Elsie!” The staccato nurse.
“That blanket’s filthy, I’ll get it washed.”
Elsie pressed the tight space again. “No!” Then softer, “It’s fine.” She searched for a good lie, “I’m cold.”
“It’s seventy degrees.”
“I’m cold. Please.”
“Well. You want that nasty thing, I offered.”
Elsie waited. Must not appear rushed, hurried. Slowly to the door.
“Elsie, you taking anything from the dining hall again?” Another bossy nurse.
Elsie couldn’t speak. She shook her head.
“Show me your hands.”
Slowly Elsie held her palms up, like a small child. Empty.
When the nurse had gone and the path seemed clear Elsie rolled into her room. She loosened the afghan and pulled a small napkin-clad square from the tight place, and smiled a little; mischievous, younger. Alive. Savoring the moment, Elsie pulled back the napkin.
The brownie tasted like freedom.