Flash Fiction #134

Pop Can Tabs

PHOTO PROMPT © Claire Sheldon

TANSTAAFLUrban Myth

Save all your pop-can tabs. Someone will donate a power wheelchair.

Mr. Cynicism said, “Who? Why?”

Like a child’s paper-clip necklace, I pulled it apart, one link at a time. Daughter said, “Mom told me.  Didn’t she mention it to you?”  The wife named a sister. That sister blamed an older sister. She said the yenta was a bowling team member.

Bowler identified a man in her trailer park.  “He’s got his; we’re trying for another.”  Wheelchair man nailed them, upside down, to slabs of plywood, and sold them to supplement his meager disability allowance.  “They’re great muddy shoe scrapers.”

***

TANSTAAFL is a term credited to the author, Robert A. Heinlein. It cynically/realistically means, There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

The trailer park man’s wheelchair was not donated.  It had been supplied by the government. He was not aware of any group giving away free wheelchairs.  Pop-can tabs are pure aluminum.  There was a group who collected entire aluminum cans, crushed them and turned them in for rebate at the scrap dealer.  The money was added to a fund which aided handicapped people.

BELIEF is when Hope is substituted for Facts.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Ode To Contessa

 

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Contessa – my little one – my Missy – my Lady Cat – my gravatar partner – the one who happily, excitedly, ran to greet me each day as I left the bedroom – has died, and I cried like a baby!

It was not unexpected, but it was no less painful. A retired breeder, she was with us just over 5 years.  She was 16 years old, but many Bengals live to be 20.  She was supposed to be the wife’s cat, but she adopted me and kept me in line just like she did the dog.

A couple of years ago, she developed some sneezing, coughing and wheezing. It was feline asthma.  The vet warned that, when we lost her, it would probably be to breathing problems.  Month by month, the coughing grew more common.

About a month ago, she caught a head cold. Nose was stuffed up and runny.  From February last year, to her vet appointment this year, she dropped from 8 pounds, to seven.  Whether because she felt poorly, or just couldn’t smell her soft food, she stopped eating.  By the time we got her to the vet again, she was down to 5 pounds.

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He gave us some antibiotic, and some high-calorie food. We got the medicine in, but not the food.  When Bengals stop eating, it’s almost impossible to break the cycle.  They will starve themselves.  She spent a week in the computer room, taking the occasional sip of water.  She finally came out and collapsed on the carpet in front of the bathroom door.  The end seemed inevitable.

As I sat in the living-room, reading, I suddenly realized that she’d dragged herself downstairs and was on the floor at my feet. I like to think that she wanted to be near me at the end.  Minute by minute, her breaths became shallower.  I hoped that she would quietly, painlessly drift off.

I had called the daughter and asked what to do with her when she passed. Daughter said that, as soon as I was sure she was gone, to seal her in a plastic bag and put her in the freezer, until a decision could be made – burial with a marker in the back flower garden, or cremated, and her ashes returned?

I’d had a long, hard day with the wife in the hospital for a knee replacement. I left a plastic bag and a note for the son.  I tried to go to bed at my usual 5:00 A.M., but I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t leave the problem to the unsuspecting son.  Besides, if she wanted to be with me, the least I could do is be there for her at the end.

I put clothes back on and went and sat beside her, occasionally stroking her. I couldn’t read.  I couldn’t think.  I alternated between the chair, and pacing the floor, cursing Fate and the Universe, and crying.  It seemed each breath was a little shallower than the last.  At one point she raised her head to look at me.  I want to believe that she was making sure that I was still with her and was comforted.  Then she sank back down and I thought that had been her last breath.  A couple of minutes later, she shook her ears and moved her head.

Around 6:00 AM, she seemed to spasm. Her front legs didn’t work, but she used her hindquarters to scoot a couple of feet across the floor.  I was afraid that she was in distress.  I rushed upstairs to the computer.  Our vet is 15 miles away, and doesn’t open till eight, but there’s an animal hospital a mile down the road which opens at 7:30.  I could take her there as soon as the son gets home with the car, to have them end any pain.

Around 6:20, she rear-leg drove herself over into a corner, behind a scratching post. Cats want to die alone, with dignity.  She managed to flip herself over onto her chest and tummy.  She lowered her face, her mouth and nose into the carpet, and….

I lay beside her, gently touching and stroking her, and crying my eyes out. When the son got home, we bagged and froze her.  Next week, when the wife can walk, we’ll take her to our vet’s.  The price for a job-lot cremation is $25.  A single-animal cremation, with her ashes returned is $200.  The son says he’ll split the cost.  We’ve done it for the others.  Honor says that we shall do it for her.

I don’t know how such a small, little lady managed to occupy such a large part of our hearts and lives. She was definitely part of our weird family.  Like any human relative or friend, she will be sorely missed, and never forgotten.  I/we thank you, my regal little Countess.  Be at peace!

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***

I composed this post later in the morning that it happened, to help myself deal with her passing. Thank you for reading my very personal tale of loss.  I’ll be back soon with something a bit more up-beat.   🙂

2017 A To Z Challenge – F

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I’ve been caught – found out – laid bare. It gives me no solace to know that I am but one member of a large enough group who are also exposed, that there is a word to describe and identify them.  For the letter

Letter F

I am skipping the WOW, and using the A To Z Challenge to present the latest, and most applicable word, Forgettery

Definitions for forgettery

a faculty or facility for forgetting; faulty memory:
a witness with a very convenient forgettery.

Origin of forgettery

1860-1865

Forgettery is a humorous formation based on forget and (the pronunciation of) memory. The phenomenon is very common in ordinary life, such as that panicky moment when you cannot recall the name of your dinner partner or where you parked the car in the mall parking lot. It is a little surprising that such a useful term entered English only in the 19th century.

My life has been one long series of Forget-Me-Nots. One of my ways of ensuring that I remember something is to repeat, repeat, repeat!  One scientific study said, 35 times – and it’s mine.  It’s a good thing that I like to read.  I scanned school texts over and over….and over.  I understood the concepts, but you only get marks if you remember to write them down.

I describe my situation as ‘Trigger-Memory.’ It’s a long trail of the equivalent of a string tied around the finger.  My days are full of reminders.  A sour cream tub lid, wedged into the top of my boot on the shoe rack means there’s a plate of leftovers to be taken to the daughter.  An empty pill bottle sends me to the pharmacy.  An empty cat-food tin on the end of the counter has me bringing more up when I go downstairs for some Pepsi.

Out of sight, out of mind – or, as the Chinese translate, ‘When you’re blind, you’re also crazy.” If I don’t see it, I forget it. My office desk was always a bit of a mess, because I dared not put anything away until I’d successfully dealt with it.  Lists, notes, memos, reminders – thank (insert the name of your favorite real or imaginary deity here) for electronics.  Now it’s all on the computer….if I can just remember where I cached that file.

Have you ever walked into a room, and wondered why you did? I’ve walked into rooms, and had to look around to remember which room I’d walked into.  Use it, or lose it. As much as for my Asperger-type inability to make and hold friends, my lack may be because I forget people as soon as they walk out the door, and people get upset if you do that.

Once upon a time, I forgot to pick something up, probably food for a special meal. I got from the wife, that expression that every marriage gets at least once.  “If you loved me….you would have remembered.”  I pointed out that the forgetting had impacted me even worse than her.  If I can’t remember for myself, I sure won’t remember for her, no matter how much I love her.

Would she say, ‘If you loved me, you’d be an Optical Surgeon, and make lots of money?’ With the tremor in my hands, somebody would lose an eye.

If I forget to read your posts for a week, (or a month) or forget to leave a comment, please forgive me. I’ll remember eventually, probably triggering my memory when I’m looking up another odd word, like syzygy….now what does that mean, again?   😳