The door opened.
Henry! For god’s sake! Pull yourself out of that trance.
“I swear. I am so sick of your locking yourself away in here. What’s wrong with you, anyway?”
The old man shifted in his wheelchair. The wonderful Theatre of his Mind faded from view. The velvety comfort of the theater seat shriveled and died. The rich wood of the armrests changed to the clammy and brittle vinyl of his wheelchair, his prison, his torture. His eyes fluttered open.
There SHE was, standing in front of him, fists on her ample waist, the familiar scowl on her face.
“Hm,” he said.
“Supper is ready. Are you going to sleep your life away?”
He cleared his throat. The clarity and lucidity of his fantasy-world had disappeared. His headache returned. He was, once again, aware of the pain in his lower back, the numbness in his legs, the burning, stabbing neuropathy in his feet.
“Something has changed,” he said, dazed and confused.
“I need a Dilaudid,”
“Got one right here,” she said, opening her right fist and holding it in the beefy palm of her hand. She walked (how he wished he could walk) to the dresser next to his bed and snatched up a juice glass with water and brought it to him.
“Here. Take this.”
He followed, as he always did, her instruction. He reached for the pill, then the glass. He swallowed the pill hungrily and thanked her.
“Supper is ready,” she repeated.
For all her faults, she was a good cook. For all her faults, she had become an adequate nurse. For all her faults, she did all the housecleaning and shopping. He never left the house anymore.
“Ah,” he sighed.
He grasped the wheels of his chair and followed her, rolling out of his bedroom and into the kitchen.
The smell of cooked onions and garlic, tomato sauce, and meatballs filled the room.
“It smells good,” he said.
“I can’t smell a thing,” she said.
“That’s a shame,” he replied. “You are a very good cook.”
She shrugged and filled his plate. She dropped it down on The Tray and he rolled over to it.
“Something has changed,” he repeated.
“Eat it while it’s hot,” she said.