Jim’s Dilemma

What was the point of waking up? Today would be no different from yesterday. Or the day before that. Or any day over the past year. Has it been a year? Or more? Jim wasn’t sure. He hadn’t been sure of anything for a long time. All he knew was that he didn’t live at home anymore.
Jim couldn’t recall much of his life before whatever had happened to him. He thought he had a wife. But was she still alive? Sometimes he asked about her. He thought her name was Norah, but he couldn’t be sure.

When the man came in to get him out of bed, Jim asked about his wife. “Is my wife coming today?”

The man helped Jim sit up and took off his pajama top. “Today is Monday. Your wife always visits on Monday. Don’t you remember?”

Jim lifted his arms. The man slipped a long-sleeve shirt over Jim’s head. And then a sweater. Jim liked the feel of the clothes. They were soft and warm.

“What’s her name?”

“Norah,” the man said. “Scoot to the edge of the bed.” The man took off Jim’s bottoms and underpants. He put on new ones. And a pair of soft pants. And socks and shoes. “Okay. Time to stand.” The man slipped his arms under Jim and lifted him up. Then the man turned Jim and put him in a wheelchair. “Now off to the bathroom.”

Jim did everything the man asked him to do. Eventually he was put at a table and a plate of food was placed before him. Jim ate, but he couldn’t remember what the food was called. He wasn’t sure if he liked it, but he knew that the man wanted him to eat and drink everything.

After eating, Jim was moved to another room. One that had a television. Jim liked the television. It was bright and colorful and full of sound. He stared at it, no matter what was going on. Some things he liked better than others. Like sports or car racing. He didn’t like shows where there was a lot of talking. He couldn’t follow what was said and it confused him.

“Is my wife coming today?” Jim asked the man when he came in to do something to the television.

“Yes. She should be here soon.”

The morning passed by, like every other morning that Jim could remember. The man pushed him to the bathroom and helped Jim sit and do his business. Afterward the man pushed him back in front of the television.

A woman came and kissed him on the head. “Hello, Sweetheart,” she said.

“Do I know you?” Jim asked.

“Silly, of course you do. I’m your wife.” The woman sat in a chair next to Jim. She held his hand. “How are you today?”

Jim smiled. “Okay.”

“Good. Let me see your arms.” The woman pushed up Jim’s sleeves. “She rubbed one arm and then the other. “The bruising seems to be going away.”

Jim smiled. “Who are you?”

“Norah,” she said. “Guess what? Bruce called this morning. He’ll be coming for a visit later this week. Won’t that be nice?”

“What?”

“Bruce, your son, is coming. He wants to see you.”

“Oh.” Jim stared at the television. Those cars were still running around and around, making a lot of noise. He liked that. “I want to go out for a drive. I’ll take my truck.”

“You can’t drive anymore,” the woman said. “You don’t have a license. Besides, I sold your truck.”

“I can’t drive?”

“No. You haven’t driven in years.” The woman touched his cheek. Her hand was so soft it almost tickled.

“You have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning,” she said. “I’ll be here early. Right after breakfast.”

“Okay.”
“After your appointment we’ll get a cup of coffee and some fries before the transit gets there. Will you like that?”

“What?”

“Fries and coffee.”

“I guess.”

“And then on Wednesday I won’t be coming. I have to take the car in for a checkup.”

“Oh.”
“Bruce will be here on Thursday and Friday.”

“Okay.”

“So you’ve got a busy week coming up.” The woman held Jim’s hand and rubbed his arm. “Will you like that?”

“What?”

“A busy week. Places to go and things to do.”

“I guess.”

Jim and the woman watched television together. The cars were still running around and making lots of noise. Jim liked the colors of the cars.

“I have to leave now,” the woman said. “It’s your lunchtime.” She stood and kissed him on the head. “But I’ll be back tomorrow.”

“Okay.”

“Bye,” the woman said.

Jim watched the cars go around and around. The man came and took him to the bathroom again. Then put him at the table. Jim ate all the food and drank whatever was in the cup. When he was finished, the man pushed him to his room, got him out of the chair and put him to bed.

“Is my wife coming today?”

“She’s already been here,” the man said.

“She was?”

“Yes. You watched television together, remember?”

“No.”

“Well, it’s time for your nap,” the man said. He put a blanket over Jim. “Close your eyes and rest. I’ll be back when it’s time for you to get up.”

“Okay.”

Jim watched the man walk out of the room and close the door. Jim felt lonely. He missed his wife. He wished she came to see him. He thought she was still alive, but he wasn’t sure. He closed his eyes and tried to remember what she looked like.

She had yellow hair. And she was small. He couldn’t recall the word for it, but the picture in his mind was of her leaning against his side and him resting his chin on the top of her head. He couldn’t remember anything else about her. What color were her eyes? Where did they live? Did they have kids?

Jim was so confused. The man asked him all kinds of questions every day. Jim thought very hard, but didn’t know the answers.

Jim kept still on the bed. He didn’t like to move around because it was so small. He was afraid of falling out. He stared at the ceiling and tried counting the dots. Jim counted to twenty, but couldn’t remember what came next, so he started over again.

What was the point in trying to remember? Every day was just like the one before. Jim was so sad sometimes that he cried. He didn’t understand where he was or why he was alive. Is this living? Jim didn’t think so.
The one thing he wanted to know, more than anything else, was when he could die. He hoped it was soon. He was so tired of everyday being the same.

About Terry Connelly

Terry Connelly is a retired high school English teacher. She earned her BA and Single Subject Teaching credential from California State University of the East Bay, in Hayward, California. She taught for 18 years at Newark Memorial High School in Newark, California. She was gifted to work with both College Prep students and those with learning disabilities.
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