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This Is How It Goes

You will reap what you have sown, she says.

Day and night, she says this, in a thin voice, taut with eighty-nine years of unexpressed emotion.

Her God always was vengeful. Well, seems now he’s coming to get us all.

Anger does wonders for her mobility. She’s not been this nimble in years. This tiny woman, who can’t keep any meat on her bones, moving about on feet that have felt like they were on fire for decades, stricken with a nerve pain it seems she has forgot.

You will reap what you have sown, she says, the clunk-clunk-clunk of her walker a staccato we hear with dread as we wait one floor below, clenched—

I’m so sorry, I am so sorry, she says.

She is so unhappy, so miserable, just miserable. This is so awful, so awful we wouldn’t do it to our worst enemy, why are we doing it to her?

She is a prisoner with no clothes, she says. She needs other clothes, wants other clothes, wants her home, wants to return to a life that was very rich, very full. Her life back home is so rich, so full, she says.

She has forgotten the darkness, the loneliness. The circuit from the bed to her chair to the bathroom to her chair to the bathroom to her chair to the bathroom to the bed, day after day after day after day.

She could get somebody, she says. She was going to get somebody, a couple. And they were going to live with her and they were going to look after her and she was going to be able to stay in her home and that is what she wants.

She had this couple. She does not belong here. She does not want this. She has this couple. You see, there is this couple.

She goes into her room and then comes out of her room and she is surprised to see us. She thought we had left, she says. She had forgotten to remember we are there.

She thinks it is yesterday or tomorrow, she does not know which, but believes with total conviction that it is never right now.

Sobbing, she pushes us away. She would gladly have come here to live with us, she says, if only we’d asked her, given her a choice. She is an adult, she says. We have kidnapped her, imprisoned her. Indignant, she announces, I am a prisoner with no clothes.

When we see her in her coffin, she tells us, we will regret what we have done.

She recognizes us still. Calls us by name. When she’s up there with the Lord at the pearly white gates, you better believe she’s sure as hell going to know who we are, she says. There will be no mercy. We are owed no mercy. She will have no mercy, she says. God has no mercy for daughters who do this.

I just want to go home, she says. I am so miserable just miserable, a prisoner. You have kidnapped me—KIDNAPPED! I’m so sorry I love you all of you you have done this.

And she’s not wrong. There is no mercy. In due season, we will reap.

Oline Eaton has a PhD from King’s College London, wears color, loves cake, spends a lot of time writing about nationalism, nuclear fear, first ladies, feminism, and the sex lives of dead people at FindingJackie.com.