Sort of Serendipity

Kelley Hunter


Mia wasn’t at all surprised Roz was having no part of dying.
“You can tell’em all I ain’t dead yet, the gawddamn vultures.” A shriveled skeleton beneath the sheet, she nodded toward the doorway, at the hallway filled with leering residents.
“I got no plans to go tomorrow, either,” Roz gasped, “so they just can blow it out their diapers.”
Mia shut the door and sat down on the edge of the mattress. She clutched Roz’s bony hand, the old woman’s fingers cold twigs against her palm.
“That’s good because the director’s letting us play cash bingo Friday. A special Christmas treat.”
“You don’t say.”
“I do. It’s your chance to cleanout Mrs. Dibbs. You can’t die and miss that.”
Roz cackled, then coughed under the oxygen mask that muffled her voice.
“I don’t think I’m going to be able to make it.” She sighed. Her strained breaths fogged the plastic. “It’s a shame, though. Marilyn Dibbs deserves to have her ass kicked.”
Mia had to agree. The newest resident, she’d flirted shamelessly with Maury, Roz’s paramour, breaking nursing home etiquette. No one crossed Roz.
“Oh, please. I can’t believe you’re just giving up.”
“You’ve been a good recreational assistant, Mia,” she said, abruptly changing the subject. “I’ve appreciated the way you’ve looked the other way during our card games.”
“It’s not my job to be the morality police. I’m just here to help you all have some fun.”
“Eh, some people get a little power and lose perspective.” She squeezed Mia’s hand, taking her by surprise. “Watch over Maury for me, will ya?”
“Of course I will. But you aren’t dying. You said so yourself.”
“Don’t even start with that crap about not dying. I said not today. But gimme a freakin’ break. I got cancer. Much as I wish I didn’t, I do, and I’m gonna keel over soon.” She took another strangled breath. “I wouldn’t mind so much, but for Maury and some unfinished business, it stinks.”
“Unfinished business?”
Roz ignored her. “How’s things with Scott? You two getting along any better? Set a date like I told you to?”
“No, still no date, but he’s okay with that,” Mia lied.
“Ah-huh, right. Fib to a dying woman, why don’t ya.” Roz coughed and changed the subject again. “Make sure Myers Funeral Home buries me in my good underwear. Word is they’re a bunch of lazy bastards over there. Check if you have to.”
Mia looked away. She wasn’t sure she wanted to lie again. She was really sure she didn’t want to tell the truth.
“I will,” she said anyway.
“Bullshit me twice, why don’t you. You got cojones, though, I’ll say that. It’s probably why I like you so much.” Roz dropped her grasp. She pointed shakily to her laminate end-table. Her hand was a hot pink claw, all knobby knuckle and bone and shriveled skin. “There’s an envelope in there. Take it out.”
Mia got up. The plastic sheets crunched in protest. She slid open the tilted drawer on its plastic rollers. Inside a half-naked man with bulging muscles peered back from a romance paperback cover. She pretended not to see the nip tucked next to it and pulled out two sealed envelopes. The top one had her name scrawled across the front of it in black ball-point.
“What are these?”
Roz waved her off. “One’s a letter for Maury. It’s important to let people know how much you love them. Give it to him, but not until after I go.”
Mia held the envelopes and stared at the stark whiteness of them. She resisted fingering them; it felt impolite.
“I love you too.” Roz stared at Mia over the oxygen mask. “So the other’s for you, as I’m sure you see. Read it later, once you’re outta here.”
“Don’t start arguing with me now. Take the letter. It’s yours now. You can decide what you want after you read it, to help me or not, but I’m okay with whatever you choose. But always remember, you don’t gotta learn the hard way about being too stubborn. You just don’t,” she said. “Only promise that if I do die before Friday, you make sure to kick that Dibbs’s ass yourself.”
“That I can promise, only I was sort of hoping you’d stick around until the holidays.” Mia sat back down, confused now. “But, what else, exactly, am I deciding, Roz?”
What Mia really wanted to say, though, was what kind of trouble are you getting me into this time? Because knowing Roz and her schemes, this couldn’t be good. No matter what Roz said about loving her, she loved making trouble more.

Want to read more? Pick up your copy of SIMPLY SERENDIPITY: The Sweet Beginnings, which includes the SORT OF SERENDIPITY short story at  SmashwordsAmazon UK, or Amazon!

And stay tuned for the novel due to be released in 2012!