Miss Pickles was an icon as the fifth grade teacher at the Malcolm Rutherford Primary School for the last 57 years.
The last thing she expected was to be not only retired but to have to find a new place to live after she broke her hip.
“I prefer a single room,” she told Ms. Fallon, head of the Sunrise Home for Active Seniors.
Ms. Fallon’s round face stretched in a smile.
“We do not have single rooms here at Sunrise, Miss Pickles,” she informed her newest resident in a perky voice that the elderly former teacher didn’t think was appropriate for a woman who was clearly over the age of 50. “We encourage our guests to make new friends. At this stage in your life it is always good that you are surrounded by people. I would think you, especially, would enjoy the company of adults instead of all those children you taught over the years.” Her lips pursed displaying what she thought of anyone under the age of 80. Not good at all.
Miss Pickles was not happy to hear this, but she didn’t allow her emotions to show. After all, you couldn’t show them when you dealt with children. Like feral animals they could capitalize on weakness.
“I did not come here to make friends, Ms. Fallon,” she said in her slow even tone that always kept her students in line. “I am here because my doctor said I can no longer live on my own.” Arrogant man thought he knew best when it was clear Miss Pickles knew her strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else. Managing to get Social Services in on this actually FORCING her to move here was reprehensible. But then, she did have to fail him in English when he was in her class. The boy never knew his grammar.
Ms. Fallon studied her computer screen. “I see we have a lovely corner room available,” she chirped. “Mrs. Timmerman is a wonderful woman. She lost her husband a year ago and came here to stay. She’s a favorite of everyone. Very warm and friendly, she’s heavily involved in our Tuesday morning knitting club, Thursday afternoon reader’s group, twice a week yoga class, and she recently organized a bridge club.” She beamed.
Miss Pickles didn’t beam back. She thought knitting was a waste of time, she read enough while teaching, she couldn’t imagine sitting on the floor forcing her body into odd positions, and cards, well, no thank you.
She allowed Ms. Fallon to escort her out of the office and into the building that housed the living quarters. She noted the walls were painted pale peaches, pinks, and greens. She was positive the staff thought the colors were meant to be soothing, but she only found it annoying just as the constant smiles of the staff members who always greeted her with a cheery smile and words.
“Mrs. Timmerman!” Ms. Fallon trilled the words as she tapped on the door and walked in without waiting to be admitted. “I brought you a new roommate. This is Lavinia Pickles, our newest guest.”
Miss Pickles didn’t like that. Does this woman not have any manners? She entered at a slower pace and almost reeled back at the explosion of color that abounded about the room. Lace doilies were everywhere along with splashy handmade quilts on both beds, embroidered samplers covering the walls, and seated at a comfortable reclining chair near a window was a spritely looking woman with silver hair set in tight curls.
“Hello, Lavinia,” Mrs. Timmerman greeted her, popping out of her chair with spry movements with one plump hand outstretched. “I am so pleased to have company. I’m Maisie”
Ms. Fallon looked at the look of horror on Miss Pickles face as she gazed around the brightly colored room and escaped with a murmured “I’ll leave you two to get acquainted.”
Miss Pickles wanted nothing more than to flee from the chattering woman who sounded like a demented bird. This was why she never wanted even a parakeet.
She suffered through a day of seeing photographs of Maisie’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, meeting other ‘guests’ of the home, and turning down invitations to join a shuffleboard tournament, learn to play badminton, and so many groups and classes that her head fairly spun.
Didn’t anyone understand she really preferred to be alone with her thoughts and not scampering around this place like an energetic mouse? She really would have to do something about securing a single room. This was just not acceptable.
The screams then a strangled silence had the staff running to the rear room.
Mrs. Timmerman stood next to Miss Pickles’ bed. The latter’s throat was coated in red due to Mrs. Timmerman’s knitting needle sticking in it. Mrs. Timmerman was busily wiping her hands with a damp cloth.
“She didn’t want to join in,” she said with a deep sigh. “You know, we really can’t have someone like her here. Besides,” she uttered a giggle that didn’t go with her advanced age, “won’t a coffin be like a single room?”