Where’s that damn list?
She rummaged through her bulging purse, emptying the contents onto the car seat beside her. Not there. Dumping everything back in, she set it on the passenger side floor-mat.
I had it in my hands when I got into the car. Didn’t I?
She dug through the center console’s mess of papers and reached down, feeling along the coffee-holding panel of the driver’s door. Not there.
Think, Norma. What was on that list?
She raked unpolished nails through unwashed hair and caught her reflection in the rear-view mirror. Hard to recognize the former Miss Mariposa staring back at her with tired, blood-shot eyes. She couldn’t recognize her Swiss-cheese brain these days either. Or her sudden-onset rage episodes. Or the never-ending crying jigs.
Ah, Shoppers, for my meds. She nodded. That was on my list.
It helped to say it out loud, to make connections that otherwise wouldn’t come.
Some-City-Nincompoop-Visited-Norma-Going-Zany: S-C-N-V-N-G-Z. Seroquel (600 mg), Cymbalta (60 mg), Nexium (40 mg), Vescare (5 mg), Naproxyn (500 mg), Gapapentin (2400 mg) and Zopiclone (15 mg). She smiled, pleased to have remembered.
I’m a veritable medicinal cocktail. Shoppers should be paying me dispensing fees.
The beat-up Cavalier’s odometer displayed 220,006 km as the engine turned over.
Oh, crap, she thought. One more expense to cover with money she doesn’t have. Ten years without a single god-damn support payment. And of course Caleb pretended not to notice Mom’s dementia. God forbid the prodigal son share the cost of the nursing home. And Sara’s summer science camp. Another 1600 bucks…
Ah! she said out loud. Another thing on my list. Those Scholar’s Choice resource materials Sara’s teacher offered. A genius Miss Sommers had said.
Who’d have expected a genius from these loins? I just need that bloody disability insurance cheque to set me straight. She slapped the steering wheel. Aha! Pick up the doctor’s note. That was on my list, too.
Damn insurance companies. Never want to pay benefits that good people paid into their whole working life. Damn employer too. Why should she need another doctor’s note saying she still can’t work? After sixteen years there ought to be some trust. The doctor said this was the last note. That he didn’t have time. His job was caring for patients, not writing reports for insurers or human-resource-types. As if it were her fault. As if she wanted to see those words on paper: Bipolar Affective Disorder Type II – Cycling with Depression/Severe – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder/Moderate – GAF score 45. Medical gobbledygook. All she knew was that she didn’t know herself anymore.
Ramming the gear shift into drive she noticed an edge sticking out from under her purse. Pulling at the bent corner, she retrieved her ‘to do’ list, speckled spatters of almost-mud across the back, but otherwise intact.
Ha! I knew I brought you. I’m not losing my mind.
- Pick up doc note
- Scholar’s choice
I remembered all three. Maybe things are finally looking up.
Leaving rusty balconies behind, she didn’t notice the sedan, tucked behind worn playground equipment, pull out behind her; couldn’t see the video camera; couldn’t know the insurer’s investigator (hired at her employer’s request) would follow her, capturing her at Shoppers, the doctor’s and school, write a report saying she appeared able to conduct day-to-day activities of life, which would almost certainly lead to cancellation of her benefits and maybe her job.
Cindy Watson is the author of Out of Darkness: The Jeff Healey Story (Dundurn Press, 2010), winner of the Golden Oak Award, as well as Unloved and Endangered Animals (Enslow Publishers, 2010). She is currently at work on a novel, Bruised. She lives in Muskoka with her husband, three children, 170 lb Newfie ‘pup’ and two goats.