Archive for December, 2017

Hibernation Holiday

Posted: December 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

 

Hibernation Holiday

By Mandy White

 

The season loomed, as it inevitably would, but this year the approach of the holidays filled me with more dread than usual. Having finalized my divorce earlier that year, I would be spending Christmas alone for the first time ever. My kids had lives and families of their own, and both lived closer to their father than me, so it didn’t take a genius to guess where they would be gathering for the obligatory annual feast.

Alzheimer’s had claimed my mother to the point where I was no longer able to care for her at home. Three months previously I’d faced the heartbreaking decision of placing her in a full-time care home. She had deteriorated to the point where she needed constant supervision, something I was unable to provide when I worked full time. I visited her every day after work, but she seldom remembered who I was. When she did, she regressed into the past, talking to me as though I were still a child.

Thanksgiving came and went. My son and daughter both phoned, but neither had time to visit. I assured them I was fine; that my work schedule didn’t allow for socializing or cooking fancy meals.

More and more often I found myself sitting at the kitchen table, gazing out the window at the bleak landscape that was now my back yard. It had once been a happy place, filled with the activity of my children and their friends. Now, the garden was overgrown and the swing set hung rusty and unloved, anticipating my grandchildren’s next visit. No children would visit this year. No misshapen snow people would populate the lawn. No warming little red noses and chilled fingertips with steaming mugs of cocoa.

Not even Mom anymore.

Just me.

I flipped open the brochure for the thousandth time; the people at the care home had given it to me, suggesting I give it consideration before it was too late. She wasn’t too far gone, they told me. Science was making great strides in Alzheimer’s research and a cure might be a reality in just a few years. After all, they had already perfected cryogenics to the point where it could now be offered as a viable solution in cases like that of my mother.

Freeze my mother.

It sounded so barbaric when I thought of it that way, but it was the bald truth, no matter what fancy name they wanted to slap onto it. Her life insurance policy could be used to pay for the cryogenic process, which had about a twenty percent risk of failure. Not everyone survived. There was a chance I would be signing my mother’s execution order in an attempt to save her life. But if I chose the alternative, which was to do nothing, she was destined to die. A slow, miserable death, which I would experience with her, moment by agonizing moment.

The more I thought about it, the more rational my plan seemed.

December first, I arrived at my appointment at the cryogenics place. I listened to their orientation, which was more of a sales pitch, and signed all the necessary forms and waivers. After that, it was time to find out how well the process would work.

***

Voices. I heard the sound of many voices.

They were singing.

I recognized the song, but what was the name of it again? Oh, that was maddening! I’d heard that song numerous times. It was… I hummed the melody in my head until the words came to me.

“Auld Lang Syne…” I joined in the chorus, but my singing voice was terrible. It came out as a raspy croak.

“She’s awake!” someone said. I knew the voice.

The singing stopped and excited conversation broke out.

“Grandma! Are you awake?” a child’s voice this time. My granddaughter.

“Haley?” I whispered. I struggled to open my eyes, but my eyelids felt swollen and heavy.

“Give her time,” a strange voice said. “The effects will wear off slowly. Carol? Can you hear me?” A finger lifted my eyelid and a bright light flashed in my eye for a second.

“Ow!” I squeezed my eyelid tighter against the invasion of the light. “Fuck off! That’s bright.”

Laughter filled the room.

“That’s Mom, all right!” my daughter’s voice said. “She’s back!”

I managed to open my eyes; just a sliver at first, until they adjusted to the light, then eventually opened them all the way.

“What…” Words escaped me.

I was in a strange room, similar to a hospital room but the décor had a homier feel. My family surrounded my bed. My son Mark and daughter Nancy, along with their spouses and children, all crowded into the room.

“What are you all doing here?”

Mark explained, “We had been planning it since September. We weren’t going to let you be alone at Christmas. Nancy and I collaborated and all four of us managed to schedule vacation time for December. We wanted to surprise you. Turned out we were the ones who were surprised when we showed up to find you weren’t home. We called your workplace and your boss said you’d taken the entire month off for health reasons.”

Nancy chimed in., “Mom, how could you do this without telling us? Do you have any idea how worried we were when we couldn’t find you? It was your neighbor, Helen, who told us. You’d given her the key and asked her to water your plants because you were going away. She said you’d given her a phone number to call if you didn’t return by January fifth. We called the number and it was a… whatever this place is. I still don’t fully understand it.”

“Cryogenics,” Mark said. “You froze yourself. But I’m not sure I understand why.”

“I just wanted to skip it, you know? The whole damn thing. I knew you kids were too far away to visit, and Mom…” a sob caught in my throat at the mention of my mother. I felt guilty for abandoning her, even though she didn’t know the difference. “I did it for Mom, too. I wasn’t just being selfish. They gave me the brochure, the people at the care home. We can put Mom into Cryo-sleep until they have a cure. I wanted to discuss it with you, but thought it only fair to test it myself first to make sure it worked. I didn’t want to do anything to her that I wasn’t willing to do myself. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to cause her any pain or suffering. I mean, they say it’s just like sleep, and now I know that’s true, but I needed to know for sure.”

The room had fallen silent since the mention of my mother.

“Mom, there’s something you need to know,” Nancy began.

“What?” A cold weight formed inside my gut. “Is Mom ok? Have you guys checked on her?”

“She’s…” Nancy’s voice choked.

‘Mom,” Mark said, “Grandma passed away the day after Christmas. We spent it with her because you were asleep. Heart attack, they said. She died in her sleep.”

“No,” I whispered. “I shouldn’t have left her.” Tears filled my eyes. “At least she went peacefully. She didn’t know the difference anymore.”

“She asked for you.”

“She did what?”

“Christmas Day, when we all gathered to visit her at the home, she looked around at all of us and asked, ‘Where’s Carol? She usually visits me every day. It’s so strange that you are all here but she isn’t’. We tried to explain to her where you were, but she didn’t understand. She just kept commenting how strange it was that you weren’t there.”

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Mandy White

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I long ago reached the conclusion that I am not cut out to be a blogger. I don’t know if it’s the pressure to come up with new content on a regular basis that makes me choke, or just a general fear of commitment. As a result, this blog has stagnated save for the occasional reblogging of things that interest me.
I figure, what the hell, it’s a new year and all that shit, let’s try something new and breathe some life into this dead piece of web space.
I still don’t have much to say, but I do have a fondness for short stories. I have a buttload of them and so do a lot of my friends. So I’m going to start posting those for readers to enjoy (or not)
Starting….now.

A brilliant Christmas story from my favorite vampire blogger, the Vampire Maman:

Vampire Maman

The voice on the phone whispered, “are you coming over today?”

Why Tellias always whispers on the phone I will never know.

“I’m on my way,” I said. “I’m stuck on Hazel in the never-ending construction, but I’m on my way.”

“Good,” he said in a papery thin voice. “I have a lot to tell you.” Then he hung up.

A 2054 year old Vampire can have a lot to say, so I picked up a case of Poet’s Blood at Dave’s Bottle Shop.

When I arrived at the Queen Ann style farmhouse Tellias and Eleora were waiting for me on the front porch. Tellias was wearing tuxedo pants, a slate blue workshirt with the name Jose stitched on the pocket, and yellow flip flops. His pale blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail. Elena was wearing  white Go Go boots, a red mini skirt, a black fake fur…

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