Albie Comes to Visit

In a nursing home lives an 86-year-old woman named Helena, who is ridiculously tired of being alive. She hates the nursing home, the people who take care of her, and is getting annoyed with her daughter, who only treats her like a patient to look after, ever since her husband, Albert, died. Helena is longing for an escape of any kind, when she feels the presence of Albie in the room - and some things, including her opinions, begin to change drastically in a very small amount of time.

Little light made it through the thick blinds on her bedroom window, but Helena could still see the bare ground that lay just outside the nursing home.  It had been only a month that she'd been trapped in this place, with only the occasional visit from her daughter and son-in-law.  Not that she really liked them, anymore.  Her daughter's controlling attitude was all that came through, anymore.  Tom was worse - he just stood and watched as Helena was bussed throughout the nursing home by his wife.

Of course, Helena loved her daughter.  But the comfort that used to be so strong in their relationship was very distant now, and now all Helena could feel was the presence of the other people who were stuck in this place - including Albie. 

He'd passed on ages ago, but she could still feel him beside her - more than she could feel the pills being forced down her throat every afternoon.  He was here, now, rubbing her tired shoulders as she rested.

"You really should be gone, by now, Albie.  There's nothing left for you to do." Helena said knowingly.

Silence consumed the room, and Helena could no longer here the nurses bustling around outside her room.  She felt as if she could suffocate, it was so quiet.  Confusion filled her head, until the soft, deep whisper of Albert answered her.

"You know why I'm here, honey.  I've got to watch you, and Annie... you'll understand how I feel eventually." Albie said assuringly.

Helena had heard from people and books that when a ghost was near, it got colder.  But warmth was all Helena felt right now, and she knew it was from her husband.

Helena didn't respond, so Albie continued.  "You still want to know when you're going, don't you?"

His wife looked down, and closed her eyes.  "Albert, of course I do.  I hate that you're here - you consume all my thoughts and I can't even see you.  I can feel your presence, but that's all." Helena sighed frustratedley. "I cannot wait until the nurses quit thinking I'm talking to myself.  I can't wait until I can actually see you, like you can see me."

Once Helena closed her mouth, she knew that Albie felt guilty.  He just wanted the best for his wife, but it was a rule that he did not tell anyone the date of their death; even his wife.

"Please, Albie." Helena's strained, tired voice ached.

"You know I can't, dear.  Can you not just wait a little while longer?" Albert pleaded.

Helena opened her eyes again, and automatically felt blinded by the sunlight that seeped in through the windows.  Lola, a nurse who often tended for Helena, was standing in front of her, a shocked look on her face.

Lola spoke little English, and obviously was having trouble expressing her thoughts in English.

“Oh, señor.  ¿Henrio, empanada?  Puedo verlo.  El hombre que pasó lejos hace unos meses.  ¿Empanada?  ¿Henrio?  ¿Alicia?  Él está estando parado al lado de su esposa.  Oh, mi calidad.  Esto es hermoso, con todo… el dar una sacudida eléctrica.  ¡Venido, mirada!  Él está aquí.  Albert Redford está aquí.  ¡Oh, señor, señor! “  Lola was screaming in Spanish, trying to get staff to accompany her in Helena's room.  She was hyperventilating, staring continuously beside Helena's bed, where she could feel the presence of her husband.

Alice, another nurse, rushed in.  "What is wrong, Lola?  I--" Alice paused mid-sentence.  "Oh, oh my goodness."

Lola finally got something out in English.  "Albert... is... here." She breathed.

Helena's eyes widened, and looked to her side, where she could so distinctively now see her Albie.

He was wearing his tucked in, plaid red shirt that she'd given him for his birthday seven years before - the shirt that Albie had died in. He turned to her, and his watery eyes examined his wife like he'd never seen her before.

"Helena, I'm here.  Can you see me?"

Helena nodded profusely.  "Yes, yes, yes.  Is it time?  Do I go now?"

Albert shook is head. "Not yet, my love.  I just wanted to say 'hello', like I used to."

Helena closed her eyes as a tear streamed down her old, withered face.  "You're here, aren't you, Albie?"

The nurses stood at the side of the room, their hands to their hearts and their eyes wide in shock.  Occasionally, would they mutter a word or two that couldn't be understood.

"I'm here, Helena.  Always." Albie whispered, then faded away.

Helena looked around frantically.  "Albie?  Albie?"

But Albie was gone, and Helena knew she wasn't going to see him again. 

Helena clutched her hands together in longing, then fell back onto her pillows with such force she thought she'd hurt herself.

“Dios vino, hoy.” Lola whispered.

Helena smiled.  She knew what Lola had said - she'd been taught a little bit of Spanish in grade school: God came, today.

Alice stood, stricken with a mix of confusion, shock and awe; then shook her head.  "We certainly saw something today, didn't we, ladies!  Now, Helena.  It's time for your nap.  Get some rest, dear.  You'll need some, after this!"

Alice came and pulled the covers up to Helena's neck, much to her frustration.  "Alright, alright.  I'm not that old, Alice.  I can do it myself."

Alice smiled.  "I like your attitude, Helena - but it is my job."

The two nurses walked out of the room, leaving Helena to her rest that she likely would not get.

"Albie?  Are you still there?" Helena asked hopefully.

No answer.

Helena smiled a crooked smile.  "I just wanted to tell you: I can wait, now."

Once again, silence filled the room.  "I thought so," Albert's voice whispered, then the bustle of the nurses once again could be heard.

Helena shook her head in admiration of her husband, then gazed out the window, once again, to the bare ground outside - this time, not so longingly.

 

The End

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