by Art Cerf
Matilda Brock, all of 90, sat in her nursing home room, enjoying the sunbeam coming through the window, as winter reluctantly gave way to spring.”
Suddenly at the door, hooded death appeared.
“Where the hell have you been?” screamed Mrs B. “I’ve waited for you the past ten years in this pit. I’ve seen two roommates die and other slip into senility, but would you come and rescue me? No!”
Death stepped back a moment. He had heard people scream at his arrival, cry or barter for more time. But no one…no one had ever dared to scream at him over the centuries.
He asked her why.
“All my life,” Matilda said, “I was taught to be silent and submissive…first by my braying jackass of a father and then by my bullying and pompous husband. When he died 30 years ago, I thought finally I’m free and threw myself into community service. But soon, I became everyone’s mule.
“The church could use more flowers. Please take care of it Mildred.”
Or “Who should organize this year’s benefit for the children. Mildred can do it since she has time on her hands.”
“By the time I was 80, my son, Otis, told me I could no longer live alone and since I had given him power of attorney, he sold my home and put me in this place with indifferent food, sloppy nurses aides and fat administrators. There’s only one TV. The women watch it all day for those stupid ladies talk shows, and the men take over at night for either sports or right-wing commentators. My favorite granddaughter, Bess, used to bring me books from the library…murder mysteries were my favorite as I’d plot how to dispose of various folks around me. But then my vision started to go and I could no longer read.”
Death looked at her and in the blink of an eye, transformed into a handsome, well-dressed young man. He took her by the arm and led her out into the hallway.
“Hey, where are you two going,” one aide shouted.
“Out to lunch with my grandson,” Matilda answered.
“So where do you want to go?” asked Death.
“Some place Mexican with some hot and spicy food.”
And so they went and had a delicious lunch.
From there, they were ushered to Bess’ home. Matilda arrived alone and asked to see her new, six-week-old great, great granddaughter.
Bess was delighted to see her, if not uncertain how she arrived. She brought the baby to Matilda and told her, “We named her Maddy, after you.”
Matilda held the baby like she was gold and tears came to her eyes. Moments later, she said she had to go, she had a cab waiting.
After hugs and kisses, Matilda entered a cab. As it drove away, Bess could have sworn the driver was wearing a black hood.
Matilda died that night, as did 13 other residents of the nursing home. Authorities blamed Covid but in truth, Matilda had died of happiness.
(Editor’s note) Death wants it made clear that this was a one-time only exception.