Cold Bones

Of the old-timers I visited once a month, Dulcie Marie was one of my favorites. There was something life giving that spread over her face every time her wrinkles stretched and brightened, to remind the world that a girl would forever live in her soul. The thought of her smile curved my lips. I was grinning like a lunatic when my feet crunched across her winter-kissed yard. I took off one glove, and knocked on the doorframe.

“Jack Frost has been having a royal blast on the glass of your front door,” I said, when Dulcie Marie invited me in. “Is your boiler working properly?”

“The heater’s fine,” she said, “just keeping it low. Last month’s power bill nearly killed me.”

“Your old bones can’t take this cold, Dulcie Marie. And I bet your lungs aren’t happy either.”

“Nonsense,” she said, “my bones are old, but my will is stubborn.”

I grabbed a small notepad and a pen out of my coat packet.

“Stop your scribbling,” she told me. “I don’t need that woman visiting more than she has to.”

“If your electric bill is too high,” I said, walking towards Dulcie Marie’s kitchen to make some tea, “that woman might be able to find a way to lower it.”

“Not without asking what color skivvies I wore last month first.” She had followed me to the kitchen, and was glaring at me. “Why can’t you be my social worker anymore?”

I sighed. “You know I’m too sick to do the work. Besides, if you were my client, we wouldn’t be allowed to spend entire afternoons trying to figure out if the truth is truly out there.”

When my attempt at X-Files humor didn’t lighten the mood, I started the kettle and walked back to the living room. “Want to restart the last episode?” I shouted at Dulcie Marie, who had remained in the kitchen. “We only watched fifteen minutes of the…” My voice trailed off. I had noticed the remote control sitting on top of the radiator. I picked it up. It was cold, so very cold. “Dulcie?”

She walked into the living room, leaning heavily on her walking stick. “I need to save my pennies. Times will get hard when they do away with Social Security.”

Her eyes got shiny, and my heart broke a little.

“Change that face,” she said. “The heat’s on at night. That’s enough.”

“It’s not enough,” I said.

“If that reckless man gets his way, then it will have to be. I might as well be ready for it.”

The kettle hissed. I walked back to the kitchen, teeth clenched, anger spilling out of my eyes.

the wee notes…
– I borrowed the phrase “My bones are old, but my will is stubborn” from Lorianna Feenstra. The story was inspired by an old, old, old… (wonderfully bullheaded) friend.
– Skivvies: Marine Corps lingo for underwear.
– Linked to The Twiglet #5 (“a cold radiator”).


35 thoughts on “Cold Bones

  1. I don’t know what I originally expected when I started reading this, but to say I was drawn in by this bit of writing isn’t strong enough. I was drawn in, and walked around in it, because it was all too real. And I left angry that there are most certainly real Dulcie Maries out there who have to put a brave face on while the callous are in charge.

  2. ‘my bones are old, but my will is stubborn’…. I am not surprised.. bet that stubbornness keeps her warm…
    your friend speaks the truth.. as far as ‘reckless man’… i can imagine who it most likely is

  3. There are a lot of older women who do that. of course, if someone is only getting $700 a month or something in Social security, it is completely understandable that they’d try to limit costs. But it can kill them!

    Regardless, this was good., with a touch of politics to keep me on edge.

  4. Yes, and I think it may have been the person who will be in charge of taking away such benefits who was given a billion dollar severance package to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest in his holdings. Grrrrrr. Makes my blood boil.

  5. Every word here is illuminated both by your own strong sense of justice and humanity Magaly, and by the dismal reality we all face and many will possibly not survive. Looking at the way the power structure within the new administration’s government is being set up, I can only hope that enough of us have a will that is as strong as Dulce Marie’s.

    • That is exactly what inspired the story… I don’t think that most people understand that the old, many of the physically and mentally ill, the young… often need help with their bills. I can’t stop worrying about what will happen to them.

  6. Oh my gosh, I dont know if this is a true story or one of your awesome fictions, but it felt so real. I know there are a lot of elders who worry about that “reckless man” and that their SS will go away. This story dug in and made my heart cringe. I was in that house with you and I felt the cold, and the worry, and the fear. Awesome write!

    • Most fictions (almost all of them) are infused by reality. Sadly, this one is infused with more than I with to admit to. If some of the “promises” (which more like threats, when it comes to this issue) come to pass, too many will suffer. Way too many…

  7. Heart wrenching! Your dialogue is so real. I could hear your wit come through and the tough, but resigned tone of Dulcie Marie. I hope that kind and just hearts will win the day, but I am afraid we will lose many Dulcie Maries before it will happen. Tears and anger, wonder and respect for words so well written.

    • Thanks very much, Jac. I found your blog while searching for tanka in the web. I was rewarded with much more–your fiction is just was wonderful as your poetry, I can see that you love for both is strong and giving. Most often, I read writers who love one more than the other… rarely, I find someone like me (in pure love with both).

      Welcome to my blog. Hope to see you (and read you) often. 🙂

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