The Oldest Woman’s Secret

The reporter sits across from me and asks very nicely if he can record our conversation. Video, he says. I know what video is, I tell him. My voice doesn’t sound like my voice. I’m 115 years old. I used to be the second oldest person in the world. Since February, I’ve been the oldest person still alive.

“1900 isn’t that long ago,” I tell him. “It’s still the twentieth century.”

“We’re in the 21st now,” he says kindly. Continue reading “The Oldest Woman’s Secret”

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Room Service Surprise

“Room Service!” I knocked again.
No answer. No sound from within. There was no “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.

I checked my instructions. Nothing about leaving the service outside the door. I checked my phone. Five minutes until my shift was over. If I brought the service back to the kitchen, there would be questions and scrutiny. I might be docked pay. I might be delayed. I checked my phone again. I was meeting my girlfriend in twenty minutes. Just enough time to change out of my uniform and run to the concert hall. If I missed her performance again, she was going to break up with me this time for sure.

It’s not that I’m crazy in love, that’s not my m.o. But I do love her and I hate chaos. If she broke up with me, it would mess with my concentration, and I’d fail my bar exams. If I failed, then I’d lose my scholarship and hotel work would become my permanent employment, and as you’re about to learn, it was not my vocation. Continue reading “Room Service Surprise”

Cold Hard Cash

Finding a birthday present for my mother is never easy. After all, she can make anything she wants. My sister always comes up with something inventive. She’s like that. For example, on Mother’s 125th, Maggie gave her a dozen rubies that turned into roses, which threw off a fragrance of an Italian spring, and then all the petals flew up, forming Mother’s name, Alosinatiania, and disappeared in a rosy cloud pierced by a rainbow. I don’t have her gift. We’re half and half, and I got the wrong half. I am reduced to shopping for a present. There are no magic shops, contrary to what humans think. Why would there be when they, and I say they advisedly, can do it all themselves. And I am also reduced to working because when you can’t make anything, you have to buy it. As a result, I am in Walmart this morning, along with many other magicless people, in a crush of eager shoppers looking for big discounts, of which there are none, though there is plenty of junk. How can I possibly find a present for Mother here?

Face it, kid, I think, you’d better get out while you can, and I push and shove my way through the scurrilous crowd to get to the exit. From here I have to find my car in the parking lot because I am dependent on fuel burning transportation. Well, that isn’t any different from my sister, except that the fuel she burns is a steak dinner. I, on the other hand, have to be a vegetarian, because meat packs on my thighs. When I finally get out of the parking lot, having endured honking horns and thrusting fingers, I drive in a random direction, knowing that I’ll eventually come to a mall. Humans never get tired of malls.

My situation is precisely what Grandmother warned my mother about before she hooked up with Dad. He was a great guy, and I wish I could talk to him, but he’s long dead. The only legacy I have from Mother’s side of the family is longevity. I am eighty in human years, and look about thirty. Nobody knows whether my life will be somewhat foreshortened because of my paternal heritage, so I’ve always taken my life on its own terms, one day at a time. The days have mounted up, and I wish that I had taken some of them to update my medical degree. Unfortunately, I obtained it before antibiotics were discovered, and leeches are no longer a recommended treatment.

I’ve asked my family not to give me any magic gifts for my birthday or holidays. They’re beautiful, but I have material needs, and as they say, cash is the universal gift certificate. Unfortunately, my family understood that to mean flying cash or disappearing cash or cash that turns into rainbows. And when I said cold hard cash, they gave me exactly that, meaning dollars made of ice, which they thought very amusing. Maybe I’ll get Mother a nightgown on ebay, I think, and begin to head for home, a modest apartment in a modest drab suburb. I miss Dad. We had a laugh together when the stock market crashed. He even laughed when people started jumping out of buildings. He was a bit odd, my Dad was, but a handsome man. Everyone agreed on that, even Grandmother, who said that as humans went, he couldn’t be bettered on appearance.

Grandmother wasn’t angry with mother for falling in love with Dad, not even for getting pregnant, not even for having twins one of whom is, how shall I put it, not developmentally delayed (that is human speak—denying the facts, I’ll never catch up). Crippled I should say. That’s what my sister called me in her worse moments: Cripp.

Worse, now she feels sorry for me, and if I called her, she would make something from me for Mother in a flash. However I have no means to call her because she doesn’t have or know how to use a phone, landline or cell. I have to wait for her to pop in, which she does whenever she infrequently thinks of me.

When I get home, I park my car in the underground lot, and take the elevator up to the 20th floor. I do have a landline, a cell, and a laptop, which I presently boot up. How much is a used nightgown, anyway?

What Else Can You Wish For?

It’s my birthday. I invited all my friends, but nobody came. I don’t mind. I am still having the party. A decorator came and decorated my penthouse apartment. I wish my friends had come. They would see how pretty it is. They’ve never come to see my apartment. My lawyer warned me that lots of people would pretend to be my friend now to get money from me, but I should be firm and say NO. I would say YES. But nobody answered my invitation. I sent it on Facebook and I sent it on Evite, and nobody even RSVP’d.

My sister won’t come. She didn’t even call to wish me a happy birthday. My lawyer says that’s because I got the MONEY. She didn’t get any. That’s because she is a lesbian. I don’t mind that she is a lesbian. I would give her money if she asked, but she doesn’t talk to me. I asked my lawyer if I could give her some anyway. Half, I said. That seems fair since she is my half-sister. It’s my father who was rich, and she has a poor father, well not poor, but normal. Her father doesn’t mind that she is a lesbian but he doesn’t have a lot of money and he is also alive so she can’t inherit it, at least not now. I think she would rather have her father. He is very nice, and I think he would call me and wish me a happy birthday if he was my father.

My mother did not wish me a happy birthday either. She is not a lesbian. But she divorced my father and has a divorce settlement, but that was before he died, so she did not inherit any of the money either. I asked my father to leave money to my sister. He was very sick but he had all his marbles and he said no because she is a lesbian and so she won’t have any children but I will and so I need to inherit it to pass it along to my SON. I don’t know how he knows I will have a son. But he was always a little bit psychic. He knew that my mother was going to divorce him before she told me about it, and he sent me to the boarding school so I wouldn’t be upset by our broken home.

My friends are from the boarding school. But like I said, they aren’t coming to my party, not even one of them. I didn’t go to university because my father was sick and he needed someone to watch over the nurse to make sure she didn’t KILL him. Nurses always kill their rich patients, he said. And even though she isn’t in the will, he was still worried she would kill him and steal everything from our house. Our house had 50 rooms, so it was very hard to keep track of everything in it. He was also worried about the housekeeper and the maid stealing something, and also the gardener, though I don’t think that he had much to steal, just flowers and rakes.

I didn’t do a very good job of watching over everyone, and that disappointed my father, but he forgave me because I sat beside his bed and read his favourite stories. He liked mysteries about race horses, and I was surprised how many of those there are. I spent seven years reading books about race horses and murder out loud to my father while he was dying. I didn’t realize that dying was such a long occupation. But my father always said if you are going to do something, do it thoroughly, and so he did.

I want a cat or a dog. The penthouse is very nice but the condo association told me that dogs and cats are NOT ALLOWED. If I had a dog, I could go for a walk with him and then I would have something to do. I inherited all the servants, along with the money, and they do everything. The gardener is on the balcony now, tending to my balcony garden. It’s very much smaller than the garden around our house, but after a month of rattling around that house by myself I couldn’t stand it. For seven years, I had spent all my time in my father’s room, reading aloud to him, and going to sleep in my little bedroom. It was originally my father’s dressing room, but when he was dying, I asked the housekeeper to put a cot in there and that’s where I slept while he was dying.

The penthouse has one bedroom and it’s HUGE! Everything is huge in the penthouse, but there aren’t very many rooms. At least I can roller skate from one end to the other in under five minutes. I like roller skating. I don’t think you have to go to university to be a professional roller skater, but my lawyer says you have to be TOUGH and I am not tough. I asked him how I could toughen up but he had no suggestions. I gave all the servants the day off, since no one is coming to my party. I just want to have it by myself.

The cake is a double chocolate cake, five layers, becaue I thought there would be a lot of people to eat it. I don’t want to eat it by myself. I am not very hungry at all. So I am just going to blow out the candles and make a wish. I am not sure what to wish for. For seven years I wished my father would either get well or finish dying. What else is there to wish for?