For the Love of Maps

Submitted into Contest #124 in response to: Start your story with someone trying to read a map.... view prompt


American Fiction Sad

Marjorie hadn't been there that long, but long enough that she had somewhat settled in and had developed her own new daily routine.  She was sitting in her comfy chair at the table, a cozy blanket wrapped around her legs, studying the map with a hatpin poised in her hand, her expression locked in total concentration. Maps fascinated her and often occupied a good part of her daily studies; she loved a good map. She preferred her old-fashioned fold-up road map, like the ones on the racks at the local convenience store, and amazingly, she could always get it folded back up perfectly when she was done with it. It had gotten a little ragged over time but electronic or online maps were just not her thing.  The little crystal bowl sitting on the table glittered from the sun, filled with hatpins - straight pins with the little coloured pearls on the end of them; all different colours. The pins weren't really approved, but her attitude about non-approval was typically "mind your own business". There was a small timeframe in the afternoon when the sun shone through the window and lit up the map and she loved that; it lit up her soul too. She was so comfortable she could almost purr like a cat.

Many years ago, it wasn't hatpins. They used to throw darts at a wall map to pick their next vacation location. It was kind of a joke but ultimately ended up with the two of them going on a trip somewhere in the world. It wasn't random either; they first circled an area on the map, like the circles on a dartboard, setting out a circumference of the area they chose to travel that particular year, and after a few throws each, they eventually settled on the one dart that landed in a location they had not yet traveled to.

On this particular day, it looked like Marjie, as her closest friends called her, had a few travel locations on her mind. Or perhaps she just hadn't narrowed it down to the one location yet. There was a multitude of colourful pins stuck in the map and not all in a perimeter either. A bright yellow one was stuck in the far north-east corner, two green ones were stuck together mid-western, and blue, white, black and pink ones appeared to be haphazardly stuck anywhere, no rhyme or reason for them, which was a little unusual. 

"Oh for the love of ..... What the hell, Jim. What are you doing? You know that's too many. Come on!" Marjorie scolded her husband, what was he thinking? He knew the rules, he knew because he made them up for Heaven's sake. Only one pin per turn; how could they pick a vacation spot in this maze of pins? 

Frustrated and a bit angry, Marjorie yanked five pins out, muttering to herself about the darn pins. "Do it again but do it right this time Jim, please. I can't do this all day. I have other things to get done too. Karen's going to be here soon"

Her daughter, Karen, tried to visit every afternoon on her way home from work. She noticed that her mom seemed to be slipping a bit, sometimes her words were garbled, sometimes she looked confused, sometimes she had the face of a child in awe. She made it part of her route home each day, just to drop in and say hi and check-in, make sure everything was going okay. 

"Hey Mom, I'm here. How's it going?" Karen announced herself as soon as she opened the door. She didn't like to scare her mother and it didn't take much to do that. 

She made her way down the little hallway, knowing exactly where to find her mother. Karen worried that she spent too much time staring at that old map but she knew how much Marjorie missed him and that seemed to fill the void for her. Karen missed him very much too. It hadn't been that long but it had taken its toll on her mother when her father passed away.  Looking at the scramble of pins on the tabletop, Karen giggled and hugged her mom, scrutinizing the mess of pins scattered everywhere. She looked to see if there were any left in the bowl; yes, still a few in there.  

"Oh my goodness sake, Mom. You couldn't possibly go to that many places in one year. You know the rules ... one at a time. Come on", Karen scolded her mother, teasing her with a wink, and began cleaning up the mess of pins. She glanced at her mom and stopped what she was doing to give her a big hug because she had the face of a child again.

"We can go wherever we choose to, you know better little missy. Don't you be telling me," Marjorie gave her daughter a stern warning. No daughter of hers was going to tell her how things go. She was in charge and always had been.

"Okay Mom. You're right, wherever you want to, whenever you want to. You and Dad." She had no intentions of pulling the plug on her dreams. She was just there every day to take care of her and be there when she received her afternoon medications.

On-time, as usual, the day nurse arrived at Marjorie's room in the extended care nursing home, which was her recent new residence. Karen hated that she lived there but life sometimes doles out more than a person can properly handle, and her mother needed special care that she was not able to provide, so the heart-breaking decision was made to place her mother there sometime after her dad died when Marjorie could no longer manage on her own. Alzheimer's is a horrible blow.

"Hi Marjie" the nurse greeted her. It's that time of day again. I'm here to administer your afternoon medication", she said to her very calmly, trying not to agitate her or upset her in any way. Sometimes it didn't go well with Marjorie. 

"You're not sticking me with that dam pin again. Get out of my house, please. Go away." Marjorie shot back brusquely.

Karen sighed and put her arms around her mother. This was one of those days it didn't go well with Marjorie. They were becoming more frequent and Marjorie was angry more often now too.

December 17, 2021 18:19

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