UNITED STATES—It all comes to a head for Agnes and her roommate. I said, Agnes, you came to share my apartment, and you’ve taken it over. My own apartment isn’t mine and I wait on you hand and foot. Everybody around here has to pull their own weight. How can I be a nurse for other people if I have to nurse you?
I had spoke the truth and there was no way to take it back. She turned her head to the wall and didn’t say anything. I knew she was hurt.
She turned over a new leaf. That Monday she went back to work at the lab, and then the migraines and allergies started to take their toll. It was that last spurt, then she sank back into the muscle relaxers and drinking and I told her, you’re taking years off your life. I don’t care, she said.
Well, if you are going to be that way, see if I care then they find your cold stiff corpse. I have always been afraid after what happened, that it had been my fault because of what I had said, and she killed herself.
I came home from work and I dreaded seeing her, the words slurred, the room full of the too-sweet smell of peaches. That night after getting off my shift at the hospital, I opened the door to her room and heard a crack. She had her face to the wall and her jersey was hiked up exposing all the stomach and her powder-puff fat, wrinkled and freckled. It made me want to gag. I turned away in disgust and closed the door quietly. I didn’t want to wake her. I didn’t know she was dead. I went to the living room and watched TV. I plopped on that cushy oversize sofa that seemed too cool when Agnes first moved in. It was one of the pieces of furniture she had brought.
I didn’t know I was in the house with a dead person, didn’t have any idea. I was just talking to Myrna on the phone and watching TV.
It got to be late. I turned on the lamps and started making some dinner. I decided to check up on Agnes, even if I didn’t want to. I was feeling pretty good. I go into her room and turn on the light. I could see right away she wasn’t moving under the covers. Her fat was still sticking out. I touched her, she was stiff. Her skin was kind of purplish. The next thing I knew I was speaking gibberish on the phone to a woman. I thought I was making sense, but the emergency operator said, I can’t understand a thing you’re saying.
I took a nap, before they came to pick her up. I felt terrible about what had happened, you can’t help but feel sorry about something like that. I was happy to get my apartment back, it was too bad it had to happen this way.
At the memorial, Agnes’ daughter told me all the kids hated her with a unanimous energy: she had forged some signatures on checks and embezzled. Also, she had liberated her brother and sister from their mother’s inheritance, and she had spent it all on a business that was supposed to give it back, and more. Her brother was bitter, but he had finally forgiven her, he didn’t press any charges. He could of pressed charges, but he didn’t.
I have forgiven her, he said. I’m so glad I forgave her before she died, so she can go in peace. I was glad to get my home back and now I don’t feel bad at all. I didn’t know about Agnes. You can’t help people if they don’t help themselves. I warned Agnes about taking years off her life. The most you can do is give people a hint, and that’s all you can do. It’s for them to get the clue, and that’s all you can do. What does it matter what you say to people?
Grady Miller, the Wizard of Fiction is the author of the thriller, “Hostages of Veracruz,” https://amzn.to/2CPQISk