The days are getting longer and Mrs. Huntington wakes up earlier. She usually wakes up with the first light of day. Up until now, it’s been around 7:45, but lately it’s closer to 7:30. Nicky wondered if she would be getting up at 6:30 in the middle of summer.
He’d just got back from taking his young son and daughter to school with all their Valentines, boxes, and treats and there she sat in the recliner with Amy. Amy smiled with a smirk. She had been answering the usual questions until he got back.
“I need to get to work.” She got up and kissed Nicky goodbye. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”
“You, too, sweetheart,” he said as she stepped out the door. He had a slight feeling of envy as she escaped.
“Are you going to eat?” his mother asked before he could sit down.
“Yeah, mom. Let’s eat.”
She followed him to the kitchen table. She sat down and grabbed a tissue from the box and started coughing up phlegm in her throat. Nicky got her a glass of water and put it in front of her on the table. He put a new K-cup in the Keurig, sat a coffee cup on the platform, and pressed the large cup button. The machine started to hiss and gargle before the steaming dark liquid filled the cup.
“Nicky, why is the stuff in my throat blue?”
He turned to her, “What?”
“It’s blue. Look.” She held out the used tissue.
He truly didn’t want to look. His gag reflex was strong and looking at sputum was sure not to set well. Forcing himself, he looked. His revulsion changed to curiosity when he realized she was right. It was bright blue. Sky blue. A very unnatural bodily fluid color. In his mind, he tried to mesh the color of putrid green sinus infection mucous with this color. There was no way they were related.
He tried not to look alarmed. “Did you eat anything this morning? Blue candy?”
“No. I haven’t eaten anything.”
“Hm. I don’t know.” He busied himself with setting out the cereal and milk, and bowls and spoons. He sat down and poured their cereal. Then quickly poured the milk before she could pour her coffee in her cereal. When she started to eat, he started googling blue mucous.
The first link that popped up suggested a rare bacteria that can cause oddly blue mucous. It said to seek immediate medical care. He sucked in a breath. Could she have caught a rare bacteria? Surely not. He kept searching.
She pulled out another tissue and blew her nose. His stomach lurched. He was trying not to think about being sick. Against instinct, he glanced a quick look at her tissue as she examined it herself. This time it was clear with blood streaks. The kind of blood streaks you get from blowing your nose too hard.
He relaxed a bit since there wasn’t more blue, but still tried to not think about his stomach threatening to turn upside down.
Another website suggested blue mucous could come from eating something blue, a blue medication tablet or being exposed to blue powder. She didn’t take any blue medicines. Then it hit him.
The night before his kids had made valentines boxes and he had mixed blue paint powder and water to paint his son’s Valentine’s box light blue. Sky blue. He sighed. That’s what it had to be. Crisis averted. He was about to say something to her and realized she had since forgotten the blue mucous. He absently looked at the container of paint powder still by the sink. He wondered if she had opened it and sniffed it. Wouldn’t she have blue on her face, too?
“Whose house is this?” she asked.
“It’s my house, mom.”
She smirked a perturbed smile. “This isn’t my house?”
“Well, sure. You live here with us, so it’s your house, too.”
She continued to smirk. He knew what she was annoyed about. He was surprised she remembered. Last weekend he and Amy took the kids and went away for the weekend. Amy’s parents were supposed to stay with her, but early on, she decided this was her house and she could throw out anyone she wanted. She had physically tried to throw them out. Jaime came over to intervene but not before Amy’s mom ended up with several bruises from having things thrown at her and being kicked in the shins. They ended up leaving to calm Mrs. Huntington down after Jaime agreed to stay with her. She seemed less upset with him. It was a rough night, but the next morning, she changed her mind and decided to be grandiose and invite Jaime to stay in her guest room (actually Nicky and Amy’s room). All weekend she had played gracious host allowing Jaime to stay at her house.
“So you take care of me?” she asked.
“And you’re my son?”
“Well, how long have I lived here?”
“Just a few months.”
“He died three years ago.”
She sat there quietly eating cereal. “Well, why is that umbrella up?”
Nicky looked outside. The umbrella for the table on the deck was up. He chuckled to himself. Amy must have put it up to protest winter. Despite the fact that it’s February, the weather had been unseasonably warm. She must have put it up the day before.
“Amy must have put it up yesterday.”
“I don’t know. She must have been outside.”
“Do you want me to tell you about her? I think she is an idiot.”
Nicky tried not to laugh. “No, mom. She is okay. She does a lot for you”
“Have you ever met her parents?”
“Well, yeah. Do you remember them coming over a few days ago?”
“No. I’ve never met them.”
He knew then that she had no memory of that difficult night. Of course, Amy’s parents did and probably would not be back. That’s the hard part of all this. Hurt feelings were there. Amy was hurt. Her parents were dealing with it. Even he felt bad for what his mom had done. But, Mrs. Huntington had no memory what so ever. There would be no apologies or promises of trying harder. You just have to forget and do what you can to not let them be harmed again. Forgiveness is the only sane response because you would only beat yourself up being mad. She doesn’t even remember.
Ten years ago, this would have been a rift where Amy would have refused to ever talk to her again. Now, he and Amy have to go day by day, asking themselves at what point will they no longer be able to care for her? That day isn’t here yet, but Nicky did need to call the doctor to see if his mom’s medicine should be adjusted to prevent anyone else being in the line of fire.