Welcome to your new home Mr Albert, is it OK if we call you John? Oh, it’s Jake, sorry, I’ll try to remember.
We have heard lots about you from Karen, but now, we’d like to hear about you, what you have to say, your likes and dislikes, what is too hot, too cold, too…
Jake sits listening, or, trying to take-in what the girl is saying; her lips are moving, sound is produced but, like leaden butterflies it collapses before reaching his ears. The colours are pastel, some grey, the light poor and, other old men and women and likely men who are actually women, sexuality long since faded from their makeup, sit around the room.
Preoccupied with sleep
Occupied with nothing.
There is a huge television on the wall. Bigger than anything Jake has ever seen, perhaps six times the size of his old set, and, the picture crystal clear, super-sized faces, their lips moving also, amidst the babble of staff coming and going, toing and froing, tea and biscuits, nappies and commodes, the stuff of old age.
Jake’s tongue dry. He could probably do with a drink of something himself.
Internally he is considering whether to reply to the woman, to Karen, he is contemplating whether to show life, whether to adopt a passive patina, a confused old man, or, spring into conversation, engage, chat, laugh.
The moments pass. People walk in and out of the office. Many young men and women, almost all tattooed arms, legs; mostly thin, some round. Their language also a mystery, a train passing too fast by the platform. High-speed life before his eyes.
I’d like a lie-down.
What was that, Jake?
I’d like a nap.
But… it’s only three, there are so manythingstodo, activities, conversations, people to meet, arts, crafts, the geriatric syllabus.
Jake can see that his effort to talk was wasted. He predicted this outcome.
He considers fighting, arguing, putting-forth his point of view.
I love my nap, I need my nap, it makes me feel better, it is my safe place, and so on.
Her phone rings, others come and go.
With thin wrists she taps at speed on the keyboard, her eyes flickering over words on the screen, smiling, slipped-down glasses pushed-up her nose.
Time stands still.
This is home, this is it, regimented, part of an institution; not what Jake had expected, not part of his life-plan, his bucket list of activities. But then, what to do?
Dust settles on the booklet resting on his lap.