That morning Sandy got out of bed in her night dress. Then, she walked down her steps passing all of her framed pictures mounted on the wall. Her most cherished picture was that of herself in a tweed suit standing outside of the courthouse, with her then-teenaged daughter and former mentor. In it, she was celebrating a courtroom victory that meant the world to her. Back in her heyday, Sandy had a career as a legal secretary before she retired in 1987. Her employer had been in practice for forty-two years until he suffered from a swift onset of dementia, which forced him to give up his passion. When he became as fragile as he did, it disheartened her greatly. It also caused her to worry she would work so much that she would miss out on maintaining personal relationships as he had. His tragedy spurred her to save every penny in order to retire early. Ultimately, Sandy achieved her goal, thus avoiding hanging around in an office until she was carted off to a care facility the way he had been. It was a memory she reflected on every time she passed by her pictures. Moreover, Sandy was pleased with her life's decisions. Although she did have doubts that crept in during her more trying of days. Did she do right by retiring early, or did it stunt her in some way? She never knew the answer completely.
It was noticeable to Sandy that she did feel a little bit pained in her motions on this day. She rationalized the cause of her spike in aches to be her recovery from both cancer and a stroke. The treatments and aging had taken a toll on the woman. She hardly gave any thought to the discomfort she felt by then because it was a part of her daily existence in some form for years by that point. It was all so typical that she strolled outside to her mailbox to see if her gardening magazine had been delivered. The crisp day was welcomingly bright. Sandy wanted to feel the sunshine on her face after being indoors for so long that winter. She made it all the way to the end of the driveway, with just enough time to think "I feel very dizzy." Next, nothing processed in her consciousness until she awoke covered in sweat and shaking. She slowly put together that she was in an ambulance, and by her side was Kitty who was crying.
At the hospital, Kitty did as Sandy had instructed her to do not long after she moved in. This was to call her grandson, Stafford in case of an emergency. Kitty hadn't even thought of this when she saw Sandy fall on the cold sidewalk from the kitchen window and rushed to help her. Her first reaction was to yell for help, and that's when their nosy neighbor, Mr. Fieldbrook came outside in his plaid bathrobe to stay with Sandy giving Kitty the chance to run inside to call 911. Later, Mr.Fieldbrook pushed Kitty into the ambulance, telling her to stay with Sandy. He promised he'd go lock up the house for them after Kitty requested he goes turn off their coffee maker due to the fact that she had nearly forgotten to do so in the rush. The grandson's phone number was written on a folded-up paper in Sandy's purse which Kitty had hurriedly grabbed when the ambulance arrived. Once Sandy was admitted, Kitty dialed the number on the nurse's station phone, it went straight to voicemail. "Hello, Stafford? This is Kitty, I live with your grandmother. She's very ill. Can you come to the hospital?" Not knowing if she said the right thing or not, Kitty hung up and waited in the hospital lobby. She had been in so much of a hurry she didn't think about how long she would have to wait. Kitty had nothing in her pockets, all she could do was sit there until Sandy felt better.
At nearly 10 pm, Kitty was on what felt like her hundredth trip to the water fountain. Sandy had let Kitty visit her in her room during which the doctor explained that Sandy had collapsed due to extremely low blood pressure, something fairly common for her current medical condition. He informed Sandy that she was to stay the night for observation. Kitty had promised to remain there with her until Sandy's grandson arrived. It was an obligation Kitty had made, expecting to have been there no later than lunchtime at most. By now it was well past visiting hours and the weary Kitty was planning to sleep in the waiting room feeling awkward as if staying in Sandy's room was equal to hovering. Sandy had dozed off at dinner to the evening news playing on the room's television.
Kitty, finishing her sip of the cold metallic water from the water fountain, turned to go back to being curled up on the purposefully uncomfortable chairs the hospital provided when she heard a voice sounding as if it were made of sheer obnoxious arrogance and entitlement billowing from the nurse's station. "What do you mean I can't see my own grandmother!" Kitty walked over to see the scene playing out. "Sir, visiting hours ended some time ago. You are going to have to come back tomorrow." A nurse said trying to calm the man. "Well, take a message. You can do something that simple, right?!" The nurse looked like she was about to call security as he spoke to her. "Stafford Gunderson was here to see Sandy Brown. You got that!" He pointed at the nurse like he was trying not to hit her. "Oh, hi Stafford? I've been waiting for you." Kitty said with a joyful grin as if he were just the person she was hoping for.
Stafford being a young man in his mid-twenties, was not at all what Kitty had pictured when Sandy described him to her. Sandy's vision of Stafford was that of a blonde-haired, tall man, who was dignified. In-person, Stafford did have flaxen hair, but he was no taller than the petite Kitty, he also carried an expression of pronounced contempt that rested squarely on his brow and rippled to his frown. Kitty was just happy that she could go back to the house, now that she knew Sandy would be well cared for. Stafford though was not as happy to see Kitty. "You're the one who left me the message, right?" Kitty nodded. "So...What's going on, what happened?" Kitty explained that his grandmother was checking the mail when she fainted. Stafford instead of being calmed after being informed that his grandmother was alright, reacted with annoyance and disdain. "She pays you and you're too lazy to get the mail yourself?" Kitty felt guilt where she hadn't after he said that, her body actually shrank away a little. She cared for Sandy who had been nicer to her than anyone else. Stafford hurt Kitty greatly with his accusation. Kitty started to tremble in her words "she's asleep now, we are supposed to take her home tomorrow morning." Stafford standing with his arms crossed facing Kitty replied "'we' as in 'you' like the 'you' who let this happen, 'you' should have to pay the bill for this you know. I should sue you right now." A tear started to well at the corner of Kitty's eye and her face was hot with emotion. "Are you crying? My grandmother nearly died because of you and you have the gall to cry in front of me!" In a huff, he stormed out of the building. Kitty sat down quietly and waited until the morning not knowing her future.
The next day Kitty helped Sandy get her things and check out of the hospital. Sandy asked if Stafford ever came by to which Kitty said he had, but it was too late and the staff wouldn't let him see her. Kitty glossed over that Stafford had yelled at every person and that the nurses talked about having security on standby the next time he showed his face. Kitty hadn't known what to make of Stafford, he was filled with so much hate. She didn't know if that had been his reaction to finding out about his grandmother or if he was always like that. Kitty tried to make the best of it by convincing herself that he had to be more reasonable than the person she had met the night before. On their way to the cab lane, Stafford pulled up in his new 2000 Ford Mustang GT. He politely let Sandy in and pushed Kitty's neck as he held his front seat forward in his two-door car for her to finagle into the backseat. He drove with the windows down despite it being 20 degrees outside and neither Sandy nor Kitty had a coat on, while he did.
When they pulled up to Sandy's home Kitty was covered in goosebumps and her hands were so cold all of the blood had drained from them. Sandy told Stafford he was going too fast, in response Stafford said he thought she would have wanted to get home sooner. The front door was wide open in what looked like Mr. Fieldbrook had forgotten to close it despite him swearing to do so. Stafford looked at Kitty to blame her immediately. "Wow, you can't even close a freaking door. What's wrong with you?" He hissed through his gritted teeth. Sandy looked at Stafford. "Be nice" she cautioned. The house was just as it had been left the day before, only colder.
The table was set with the food that had been interrupted in the midst of being prepared for the meal still on the turned-off stovetop. Stafford made note of this by saying, "she can't even clean up and you let her live here?" to Sandy. Kitty wanted to speak up for herself by saying that it was more important that someone took care of his grandmother than it was for her to stop and do the dishes during a medical emergency. However, she stopped herself when she realized that she didn't know where her place was in this situation. This quieted Kitty when she was surrounded by Stafford's undeniable animosity toward her. Sandy went to her room to lie down, too tired to acknowledge what was happening. Making himself comfortable, Stafford pulled his flashy car into the detached garage, while the exhausted Kitty cleaned up yesterday's mess. She looked at the calendar on the wall as she finished up in the kitchen. "So much for Valentine's Day," she thought as she checked off February fourteenth having missed doing it the day before.