A Short Story by JannaTWrites:
The automatic doors to Desert Manor Assisted Living opened and a rush of stale, Pine-Sol laced air smacked me in the face. My stomach lurched and my nose crinkled when I got a whiff of dinner. There was no mistaking that odor: meatloaf. I wish someone would tell Norma that her creation isn’t fit for human consumption, but no one will because she took pride in the fact that her family passed it down for eight generations. I guess the Director figured if Norma’s family survived, it could make the residents hardier. So far, that wasn’t the case. Two of my subjects died this month.
“Hi, Nattie,” the front desk nurse called as I entered the lobby.
“Hey, Doug,” I called back. “Do you mind if I start with Mr. Westerfield today? He gets cranky if it’s too close to dinner.”
He shrugged. “Don’t care.”
Doug doesn’t waste words.
I set my satchel on a vinyl covered chair; purple, no less. I wanted to have my notebook and questions ready so I could limit my exposure to Mr. Westerfield.
At the end of this shift, I will be halfway to fulfilling my obligation to Professor Whitlock’s geriatric study. You see, in exchange for sixty hours of data collecting, she promised me a glowing recommendation for grad school. That is why I endure the boredom of asking nursing home residents the same questions for three hours a week.
I can’t wait until I’m in my lab conducting drug research. I’ll specialize in geriatric medicine because that’s where the job security is. Geriatric medicine is projected to have the biggest growth in research over the next fifteen years. It’s like getting a shot, I reminded myself, just think of something else and it’ll be over before I know it.
I headed down the main hallway, past elderly men and women in wheelchairs. A woman with oxygen tubes trailing from her nostrils sat hunched over, presumably sleeping. I didn’t stop to check, but instead walked faster, my pumps clacking on the beige tiles. A shiver slid down my back.
A hand clamped around my wrist, jerking me to a halt.