Hello all, I’m starting a new eBook. It’s heading in the SciFi direction currently. Here is the prologue and chapter 1. Please make comments on what you think about the start of this book. It will help me work on where to go from here. Thanks!!
What if where you are isn’t real? Maybe where you were previously isn’t real?
What if you wake up and nothing is the same as when you fell asleep? What if nothing ever was the same again?
Would you panic? Would you stay where you are in a stupor? Would you climb back in bed and pull the covers over you? Would you pace around the room, waiting for someone to come and recuse you? What would you do?
Ugh, I thought. I hate getting older. This past winter had been colder than usual for the southwest desert. I prefer the hot and scorching heat of spring and summer. People complain it’s too hot, but I rather be hot than cold. Cold does nothing for my body except make it ache.
My mind kept telling me I could still do things I used to a long time ago. My body, however, laughed and said, ‘no way, Jose’ you are crazy if you think you’re going to do those things. I didn’t think I looked as old as my sixty-two-year-old mother did when she died, but who knows how I look when viewed by someone else.
I’ve had two knee replacements, three back surgeries, and cataracts removed. I joked that I now have reading eyes and driving glasses. The VA doc said I had a choice when I had the eye surgeries. I could make one eye near vision and the other far vision or both eyes one or the other. I would still need glasses since I had stigmatism, and they couldn’t correct that in my right eye. Something to do with the shape of the eye. I read a lot and worked on the computer as much or more, so I went with reading eyes.
Getting old still sucked, as my knees had arthritis, and knee replacement couldn’t help with that. Thanks to genetics, my lower spine was a mess. I tell everyone it’s my Dad’s fault since he, my brothers, and I had the same back issues in the exact same spot, L4 and L5. Gee, thanks, Dad. Other than his height, that was the only thing I could say I got from Dad. My brothers tell me I got his tenacity, but I just remember him being angry, unbending, and not home even when he lived there. He left when I was twelve.
I tell people that I loved my parents almost as much as I hated them. I think most children would say they had a love-hate relationship with their parents, but who knows. I never asked and didn’t talk about it. Maybe another thing I got from dear old Dad.
I’d moved into a semi-independent complex early this year. If you could get around on your own, they left you alone except for a monthly check-in to make sure you were still alive. I had a DNR agreement signed and attached to my mini-frig by a magnetic. I walked, read, worked on my computer, took pictures of birds, and didn’t worry too much about my health. As long as I could breathe and get around, I was fine.
Today, I was working through my pictures of my Botswana trip from ten years ago. It was a sixtieth birthday trip to myself. It was great, and I loved it. Thankfully, our group got out just before the COVID-19 hit. I was only home for three days when everything was shut down. That was too close for comfort, but boy, Botswana would have been a great place to get stranded in.
I hoped to commission several of my pictures from the trip for sale at a local art fair. I had several good ones, but my favorite was the Painted Dogs that we saw right at sunset. They were awesome and beautiful. I had great pictures of the Lilac Roller and the Little Bee Eater. They were so small and colorful. I traveled a lot for work and tried to use my mileage and hotel points to book trips around the world. When I was working and traveling, I used Adobe PhotoShop, but now I use PhotoShop Elements. It does enough for me to work on my pictures and costs about ten times less in money.
I miss my dog, Rosalita. We had been together for sixteen years, and she loved everyone and everything. She died just before I moved into this new place. Good thing because I wouldn’t have been able to bring her here. They don’t allow pets unless they are Service Animals. Support animals didn’t count. I could barely afford the cost of living here, so it was another good thing about not having my dog. However, I missed her and often called to her during the night only to remember she was gone.
It was time for lunch, so I saved the pictures I was working on and slowly rose from my computer chair. It was a comfortable chair, but my body still protested the change in position. I stood still while waiting for my back and knees to stop aching so much that I could walk out my door to the dining room. One meal a day came with the pricing package I could afford. You got an efficiency with a shower, sink, toilet, mini-frig, five feet of counter space for small appliances, enough room for a chair, TV, and twin bed. I was able to bring my 55” TV, my grandfather’s walnut table that I used as a TV stand, and my electric lazy boy chair, and I picked up an XL Twin Smart bed to sleep in. I had one end table that did double duty as an end table and nightstand. I still had my Kindle tablet, Alexa echo, and Alexa-controlled lamp so I could turn the lights off and on.
I took my time walking to the door, so my body would have time to relax the muscles and nerves that were firing on all cylinders. Once I could walk without holding onto the wall, I went to the dining room for lunch. Today’s lunch was hamburgers with all the fixings, including bacon, cheese, etc. Sides were French Fries, house salad, or cottage cheese. I took French Fries. The nice thing about this place is that they offered fresh fruit at every meal. I tried to load up on apples, bananas, strawberries, and grapes. I loved to take more pineapple, but it makes a mess of whatever I try to put them in. They didn’t care if you carried fruit out of the dining room, but you couldn’t bring containers to fill up and carry out.
I also tried to eat as much as possible at lunch since I knew that was my meal each day. I drank water 99% of the time since I could only afford to buy one box of Diet Cokes per month. I did make tea in my room, but it wasn’t the same. Mary, the dining room assistant, greeted me as I entered the room.
“Good afternoon Ms. Tinsely,” Mary said. “How are you today?”
“Walking and breathing,” I answered and moved toward my regular table.
“Would you like company for lunch today, Ms. Tinsely?”
“Not really,” I said, knowing she would sit whoever she wanted at the table with me.
“How about Mr. Albright,” she said as if I hadn’t said no? “He’s new to our facilities and could use a friend.”
I didn’t answer her. I just sat at the table and waited for food delivery. We had to put our food order in twenty-four hours in advance, so the cooks had enough food for everyone. Tala was the server today for my table. I liked her and enjoyed talking with her.
“Here you go, Ms. Tinsley,” Tala said as she sat my tray in front of me. “Cooked to perfection just as ordered. Well done with mayo and pickles.”
“Thank you, Tala. How is school going?”
“Great, Ms. Tinsely. Thank you for asking. I’m taking English and Statistics this summer.”
“Good! That will give you more time to work on your main courses. Have you decided which major you are going with yet?”
“No, I’m leaning towards a double major. If I take two summer classes each year, I should be able to finish college in three and a half years.”
“Good for you, Tala,” I said as I squirted ketchup on my plate. Tala left to deliver more trays to other residents.
I saw Mary leading an older gentleman over to the table. Oh, great, I thought. Maybe he won’t want to talk. Sometimes, Mary sits people down, and they just talk, talk, and talk the whole time during lunch. I prefer peace and quiet while eating.
“Ms. Tinsely,” said Mary. “This is Mr. Albright. He moved in today. Mr. Albright, this is Ms. Tinsley. She’s been here for almost a year now. She can give you tips and answer any questions you might have. Have a good lunch, Mr. Albright,” Mary said as she left us at the table.
Thankfully, Mr. Albright didn’t talk at all. He seemed lost and confused. I ate lunch, grabbed fresh fruit, and stuffed them in my pockets. I love pants with lots of pockets! Then I slowly walked back to my room. When I arrived at my door, I saw a notice taped on it. Pulling the alarm off, I walked into my room and read it.
Dear Ms. Tinsely,
We regret to inform you that the price of the services you are currently receiving from Winter Haven Community will be changing on the first of next month.
We at Winter Haven Community try to keep our costs in line with the services provided and try to maintain our pricing at a level that everyone can afford.
Your new cost starting the first of next month will be $2500. We understand this is a significant increase in pricing. Our office has gone over your SSA earnings, and we realize this new pricing is above what you will be able to disburse. We are willing to help you locate a new facility to move to within the city limits.
If you have family nearby or within a day’s drive who might be willing to take you in, we can work with them to get you moved to their location.
You will need to relocate as soon as possible and no later than three days before the end of the month.
We thank you for your understanding and look forward to helping you in the future.
Winter Haven Community Manager
I sat in my Lazy Boy chair and reread the message. Could they do this? Just kick a person out. They only gave me a fifteen-day notice. I only had one brother left alive, and he lived out on the east coast. That was about three to four days of driving away. Besides, he had a big family of his own, and I would never ask to live with him. I already knew that independent living facilities were slim here in the desert southwest. Most of the facilities were assisted living or memory care living. All of the facilities I had looked at before moving here cost way more than I got from Social Security. I wasn’t poor, but I wasn’t rich either.
I did some more internet research to find out if any new place popped up that I could afford. Then I looked at whether there were studio apartments I could afford to move to. It looked bleak, and my nine pm that night, I went to bed and read until I fell asleep.