an apple in the bathroom

The Apple

 

 

an apple in the bathroom
a prose poem

 

There’s an apple. In the bathroom. It’s been there for a while.

Months. Maybe years. It can’t possibly be years. It feels like years. Things don’t change.

It hasn’t gone bad. It’s been cold. And apples have that way of lasting forever. Back in the day they used to put them in barrels.

Because they had a lot of barrels. And nothing better to do.

But the apples lasted.

It’s a little pitted. The apple. In the bathroom. It’s not rotten. But it’s a little pitted. I’ve seen apples. In the supermarket.

That were worse.

I won’t eat it. Not even to make applesauce. Because it’s been in the bathroom. For months. Maybe years.

That makes it dirty. Everyone understands that. It’s meaningless. But everyone understands it. I don’t have to explain.

It isn’t rotten. But I wouldn’t eat it. Even if it hadn’t been in the bathroom. It isn’t rotten. But it’s dead.

That happens to apples. They look fine but you bite into them and they have no flavor. Their sisters had flavor. But not this one. It looks fine but its spirit has fled, and took everything about it that matter. Only the pulp remains.

Sometimes I feel like that. Sometimes.

I think about throwing it out. At times I don’t because I know I would miss it. I don’t care about it but I would miss it because it’s in my life. Like when you break a mug that you never really liked. And you have more than enough mugs. But it’s sad because it was yours. Now it’s gone.

Or maybe I don’t throw it out because I don’t notice it. It isn’t anything. Trash turns to clutter turns to scenery. A stain on your wall that’s been there for nine months isn’t a stain. It’s texture. Why throw away a single leaf that’s fallen off a tree in autumn? There are so many more.

But mostly I can’t be bothered. On those certain days, days when I have no flavor, even throwing out an apple is too much. Picking it up and chucking it to the bin is too much. I could do it. But it won’t matter. Why does it matter?

One day I’ll throw it out. Maybe because it finally decided to rot. But probably because I just want to. Some piece of glass will dislodge from my brain and the clutter will turn to mess. I won’t think the apple is interesting anymore. I won’t think it is beautiful just because it is there. Out of place. A goldfish in a slinky factory.

So I will throw it out. And I’ll feel accomplished because it’s been there for months. Maybe years. I’ll feel cleaner. I’ll feel triumphant.

Then, soon, I’ll feel sad. I won’t regret it. Not really. I don’t need an apple. In the bathroom.

But I’ll feel sad. Because it was there. Because it was mine. And then it was gone.

 

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The Wrong Room

Christmas gift from mom and dad

 

Shredded Comfort, Day 5

I didn’t plan on spending an extended period of time today in a lady’s room at the Group Health Medical facility today. But I might have if I’d thought of it.

Apparently, the universe is supportive of my attempt to make myself uncomfortable.

I didn’t think I’d be able to do a challenge today. I was exhausted because of having to get up early, and I had a day stuffed to the gills with stuff to do. That included nearly six hours of doctor’s appointments for my mother-in-law, and since I am her primary helper with medical stuff, that meant six hours of doctors appointments for me, too.

During the worst of her recent infirmity, I spent a lot of time helping her go to the bathroom. This was exactly as much fun as it sounds. She’s nearly back to self-sufficiently, but nothing short of brain surgery is going to change the fact that there is no part of that 74-year-old woman I’m not intimately familiar with.

So when she had to go to the bathroom between appointments 1 and 2, I thought nothing of steering her wheelchair into the lady’s room. It didn’t even strike me as strange that there was another woman in there, flashing me an enormous grin as she squeezed against the wall to let us past. I did feel a little awkward about that; I mean, we really were taking up more than our fair share of space.

Then my mother-in-law, known henceforth as mamacat, got out of her chair – which she only needs so she doesn’t do so much walking she wears herself out – and walked into the stall.

“I’m going to head over to the men’s room,” I said. “I’ll be right back.”

“Okay!” She called out.

So I went and did my business, and then marched right back into the lady’s room to wait by the wheelchair. As I stood there, it dawned on my that this might actually be a little odd. After all, we weren’t at home. But people take their children into the wrong bathroom all the time, right? Surely it would be obvious why I was standing outside a stall in the tiny women’s bathroom gripping the handles of a wheelchair? Right?

The woman who came out of the stall didn’t think so. In hindsight, it probably would have been better if I hadn’t looked straight at the stall as she emerged. She caught my eye, and stared at me. If I was to cast an actress in a scene I was directing to play the part of “woman who catches pervy protagonist staring through a window at her with his hand down his pants,” she would look exactly like the doctor that walked out of that stall.

After she stared at me for what, and I’m not going to swear at the accuracy of this, was about forty-five minutes, she said, her voice thick with contempt, “Well?”

That was it. Just “well?”

“I’m waiting for my mother-in-law,” I said. “She’s…she’s in the stall.”

It would have been really nice if mamacat had heard all of that and made some kind of noise of support or reassurance. The woman nodded, and walked out. Hopefully not to call security.

After that…I was uncomfortable. Several more women came in during my extended adventure in the lady’s room. They all ignored me. I could have left, I suppose. But mamacat was sure to be finished any second, and I didn’t want to leave her there. Finally, I heard her getting up from inside the stall. As I sighed with relief, I heard the door open behind me. I spun around to see who it was. Why did I do that? I don’t know.

It was an old woman. She saw me, and recognition dawned on her face. “Oh!” she said in surprise. “I’m sorry. I thought this was the lady’s room.”

She let the door close, and walked off. A second later I realized what she was about to do, and I ran after her. I burst into the hall.

Just in time to see the door close behind the old woman, as she marched straight into the men’s room.