A woman sat on the edge of a hard backed chair. She still wore her uniform from her work as a security guard, tight in all the wrong places. She struggled to keep her glassy eyes open.
The room was dark and cluttered with boxes and furniture, speakers and shoes. There was only one window in the room, sealed tight with a piece of plastic and blanket stapled to the wall.
The off-duty security guard was not alone in the room. An old woman sat on a couch with an afghan on her lap. She wore wrinkled pajamas, unchanged from the day and possibly from the week. The air around the woman smelled rank and greasy.
“Mom, why did you do this?” the off-duty security guard/daughter asked with as much emotion as she could muster.
She felt so tired that she didn’t particularly care about the answer. Monday through Friday, she squeezed into that hateful uniform and walked to the bus station, and rode for an hour to work. 10 hours later, she rode another bus back to her neighborhood and walked home in the dark. She trudged through rain and snow, past thugs and punks, careful not to trip over the broken sidewalk or fall into a pothole, to take care of her mother.
“Do what?” the old woman asked innocently.
“I found all of your pills in the toilet, Mom. I’m sure you would have gotten away with it if you hadn’t tried to flush the bottles, too.”
The old woman snickered and leaned back against the couch. “I’m quitting the pills.”
“Not doing it anymore,” the old woman declared and resolutely crossed her arms across her chest.
Ring-a-ling-a-ling, ring-a-ling-a-ling, an electronic song began to play and a screen lit up a digital blue.
“Mom, leave it. They can wait.”
The old woman frowned at her daughter and sat straight up. She picked up the small flip-phone, looked at the blue screen with a slight smile, and set it back down next to her leg.
“I’m better now, so I don’t need the pills anymore,” she said.
Frustrated and tired, the younger woman threw her hands up.
“No, Mom, you’re not better. You’ll never be better.”
The old woman leaned back against the couch again and glanced at her phone with a secret smile.