This time, let in through a locked door, I will have to enter a six-digit number to leave. The combination is posted on the wall several feet from the lock to ensure that the residents can't get out on their own.
There's a walker or wheelchair beside every room. A photo of a flower and her pen name, Francesca, is on the door. Her new room is smaller, but she still has a rocker and the wall of family photos. One of her two parakeets is still alive, still nips my finger when I reach into its cage to free it. What's different is that she says very little and I'm the one who fills the air with chitchat.
Leaving, I read the six digits, walk to the door, key in the first four, when anxiety hits . . .
Published in Frogpond