“So this is what it feels like to get old,” Abigail thought as she slammed down the receiver on her old radial dial telephone. Her son had called again, as he does every week. And, like every week, he insisted that she come live with him and his wife. John was a sweet boy, but he had the tendency to be an overbearing pompous prick. And his wife, Marlene, was a narcissistic woman in need of a good perm. The only reason they wanted her there was so that they could play the martyr and look good in front of all their friends. “Oh, well, we can’t help with the picnic this year. John’s mother is just too frail and we have to keep an eye on her night and day.” As if either of them would know what to do if their casserole caught on fire. Abigail rolled her eyes and stood from her old wing backed chair. The ivory and gold upholstery was beginning to fray from the many years of use and the wood had lost its luster, but Abigail loved that chair. She loved everything in her home.
Her home. This was the part she couldn’t make her son understand. This was her home. This is where her life is. To move would mean giving up her things, her love, her life. Frustrated, Abigail walked to the window of her third floor apartment. The view had not changed much over the years. Sure, the store names had changed. People wore different style clothing and hair than they used to, but every day was the same routine, no matter the year. 8:00 would roll around and the storefronts would open the gates and be flooded with the masses of people. Every morning. Every day. Every week. Every year. Abigail would spend hours watching from her unchanging apartment. When she tired of people watching, she turned to the low bookshelf she kept near the window seat. Lined with her many fairy tales, Abigail knew without reading the binds which ones held her favorites from the feel of the leather spines. She reached for the midnight blue book that was falling apart at the seams. This story was the one she read most often after staring out her apartment window. Abigail could recite it line for line from memory.
“There once lived a man and a woman who always wished for a child, but could not have one. These people had a little window at the back of their house from which a splendid garden could be seen. The garden was full of the most beautiful flowers and herbs. It was, however, surrounded by a high wall, and no one dared to go into it because it belonged to an witch, who had great power and was feared by all the world. One day the woman was standing by the window and looking down into the garden, when she saw a bed which was planted with the most tasty rapunzel.”
Abigail opened the book, but did not read the pages. She allowed her mind to wonder through the story. Abigail smiled. Here she was, 87 years old – a modern day Rapunzel, trapped in her high tower, with no hope of rescue by a knight in shiny armor.
John opened the door to the ancient apartment. He had been worried when his frail mother had not answered the phone this week. As he walked down the hall, he thought about his life there. All the stories his mother had read as she beckoned him to sleep. He feared what condition he would find her. As he rounded the corner into the living room, he saw her, perched in her bay window, looking out over the crowd of people, the midnight blue fairy tale in her lap. Peace swept over him as he read the title. He kissed her cheek and whispered in her ear, “Goodnight, mother. Goodnight, my Rapunzel.”