It was a small pitiful little murp. Like a kitten that’d been left out in the rain and had been mewing all night long. Its voice nearly gone, but had enough left to make the call into the night.
PP was on the toilet. So she only heard it. But knew right away who it was: Scraping Walker Woman.
“I always have to get dressed on the floor…otherwise I …..”
PP had overheard SWW explaining her reasons for being on the floor to someone who had asked. Or hadn’t. SWW liked to talk. PP could see why. What with her lack of mobility. She probably didn’t get out except to the Y here at Hilltopia and this took her all day.
So now, with the plaintive ‘murp’, PP flushed the toilet and headed in SWW's direction. And yes, there she was, on the floor, balancing precariously on one naked hip, eyes watery with tears just like Ellie Thompson in Katherine Anne Porter’s “Noon Wine.”
“Are you okay?” PP didn’t usually like to ask. Once she’d offered to pick up the shampoo bottle that SWW had been kicking along the floor and had been thoroughly rebuked. “No, no, leave it. I can do it.”
And so now, asking her if she were okay seemed a risk.
But the murp hung in the air.
And now the tears and the obvious distress.
“Do you need some help?” PP asked.
“Oh yes!” Relief flooding over her. “If you wouldn’t mind.” She pointed at her foot and then at the scrunched up nylon gray sock on the floor. “Could you help me put my sock on?” Her tears started to run down her face. PP almost started to cry to. Damn. What would it be like to not even be able to put your own socks on? Hell, PP complained all the time about this or that. But this?
“Of course,” PP knelt down and took the sock from her.
“I hope it won’t make you sick?” SWW cringed in pain? Shame? Little did she know that PP was so easily squeamish. PP tried not to look too hard at the poor gnarled toes all scrunched on top of each other the toenail ingrown into the big toe.
PP stopped looking and began to ease the sock on. “Is this hurting you?” she asked.
“Oh, no. Oh thank you!” as PP continued to work the sock over her curled, lifeless foot. “Can you manage it now?”
“Oh yes! Thank you so much! You are so kind. And you didn’t lecture me. My husband he tells me that I should use the walker all the time and I want to use a cane but then I fell, see? She pointed to a large purple bruise on her raised hip. Did she just do this? Is this why she needed help?
PP didn't want to ask, so she just smiled, nodded, “You’re welcome. I’m glad I was here to help.”
“Yes, and you didn’t lecture me,” she repeated.
Puzzled, PP laughed, “I’m not usually the lecturing type this late in the day.”
They both giggled as PP wondered what they hell would anyone lecture her about? Falling down? Asking for help? Crying?
It was all too much and so PP left her, but not before asking again if she could manage. “Oh yes, I’m fine now. Thank you so much!” SSW smiled through the tears, her bluey eyes wet.
Sighing, PP went to shower for the pool. She really needed a swim now.
But...was that another 'murrrp' echoing from the locker room? she wondered as she turned off the shower.
No, couldn't be as PP heard, "I had to go down to the DMV today. That's why I'm here so much later than usual. My husband, he says....."