PRISONS WITHOUT BARRIERS

The scene out of her window rarely changed. And Claire paid it no heed.

God bless Claire Burek.

Always with a smile at the ready. A curt little wave, wiggling her deformed fingers in a flutter. She rubs her palms over her skirt, pressing out the wrinkles. A sweet old woman.

“GOOD MORNING MR. HENDRICKS” she’d greet, more of a shout than a salutation.

The man would pass without so much as an acknowledgement that she still was relevant. Claire would smile her smile, flatten her skirt and look out of the window. She like the sunshine on the crested snow. It was bright. She squinted at the tree in the brilliance of day. Her head would bob above her shoulder as if it were attached by a spring. And she’d wait.

A motion to her right and she turns.

“GOOD MORNING MR. HENDRICKS” Claire loudly called in another slight.

The television sat in static resonance to the array of life in attendance here. Mrs. Burek, of course. But there was Mrs. Costanza in her rumpled floral duster, hands tight gripping the arms of her chair. Mr. Chin who used to own the convenience store nearby, now is resigned to spending his days staring at infomercials that filled the screen across the room. And a hulk of a woman that they only knew as “Sarge”.

The scene out of her window rarely changed. And Claire paid it no heed. She smiled and bobbed. Waved and fluttered. She vacantly stared at the tree, watching a new flurry dust its branches.

“GOOD MORNING MR. HENDRICKS” she yelled at the window.

The snow accumulated. A stiff breeze whipped it into drifts. Mr. Chin dozed. “Sarge” sat in quiet conversation with herself. Claire, her dress neatly “pressed” bobbed and nodded; a doddering old dear.

In her mind, she was far away on an island. She played with coconuts. Claire was exploring her new world. And she was nine. In her mind she was someone else. And she was.

Her Alzheimers had regressed her to this state. She was held captive in someone else’s thoughts. But those thoughts roamed freely. Claire grinned broadly and watched the flakes meander groundward. The tree’s branches bore the snow quite well. She saw right past the wondow grate to the bush in the snow. Things weren’t so terribly bad in the dayroom on the second floor of Elderedge Senior Care Facility. There was all the time in the world to sit and smile and flatten your skirt.

“GOOD MORNING MR. HENDRICKS”

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