Mimi Trager, Septuagenarian Extraordinaire — Chapter 1
by Crystal Bryant
When Nella Andrews arrived for the first day of her summer job, her seventy-four year old charge was sunbathing in a bikini in the front yard. Nella double checked the address. 1212 Oglethorpe Way. She compared it to the mailbox. Match.
The screen door of the two-story home swung open and a younger woman, about her mom’s age, stepped out, carrying a pitcher and a couple glasses on the tray. “Daniella! You’re here. My goodness you’ve grown! I haven’t seen you since just after you lost your first tooth.” She set the tray down on a side table and started down the steps.
The sunbathing woman tipped her sunglasses down for a moment eyed Nella, then pushed them back up and turned her face back toward the sun. Nella froze, unsure whether she was expected to greet the older woman, or meet Linda Trager’s advancing arms of welcome. Linda’s arms were faster than Nella’s decision making capabilities, and Nella found herself swallowed up in Linda’s embrace.
“I was so happy when your mother said you might be looking for a job down this way for the summer! Let me introduce you to Mom.” Linda paused her ramble and released Daniella, pushing her into the grass, over to the older woman. “Mom, this is Daniella Parker, Mickey Wright’s daughter. Daniella, this is my mother, Miriam Trager.”
Nella stuck out her hand. “It’s Nella, and nice to meet you, Mrs. Trager.”
The skinny old woman reached up and pinched Nella’s hand in her boney one. “Call me Mimi. And likewise.”
Linda began pulling Nella toward the house. “Let me show you around, Daniella. Mom, your lemonade is on the porch.”
For a moment, Nella stood stretched between the two women, her hands firmly clasped on either side, but Mimi let go before Linda pulled them both along after her.
Linda gave her a whirlwind tour, ending in the kitchen with a dizzying overview of Mimi’s medicines. “Don’t worry,” she said at Nella’s shell-shocked expression. “There’s a schedule, it’s here on the fridge.” It was a laminated grid with several different color crosses. “Just mark off each pill as she takes it. Red for the morning, green for lunch, yellow for evening, and black for right before bed. Though you probably won’t have to worry about those often. And we clear it at the end of the day. Well,” she looked around the kitchen, “do you have any questions?” Mimi joined them, now fully clothed.
“I don’t think so,” Nella said.
“Well you have my number if you do. Mom, don’t give Daniella too much trouble, alright?”
“Pardon me, Ms. Linda, it’s Nella.”
“Right,” Linda said, gathering up her purse and keys from the kitchen table. “You two have a great day getting to know each other. I’m only ten minutes away if anything goes wrong.” She finally left.
Nella and Mimi eyed each other. “A bit much, isn’t she?” Mimi said.
“She seems… very well put together,” Nella said, gesturing toward the schedule.
“She’s a controlling, worrying busybody. If she’d just take a step back and let a body be, maybe she’d still have a husband.” Mimi sighed, and stepped around Nella to fill a glass with water. “Not that she needs one, but once you’ve got one, a decent one at least, you might as well try to hold on to him for awhile.” Mimi sighed, and popped a pill. “That’s the heart meds. Mark it.”
Nella reached for a marker.
“Use the red one. Linda will throw a fit if her colors are messed up.”
Nella grabbed the correct marker and found the right row. She placed an ‘X’ in the square. When she turned around, Mimi was already in the living room, settling into a recliner.
“Can I get you anything, Mimi? Blankets? A pillow?”
“I’m old, girl, not infirm.” She turned on the television. “Nothing good on television these days.” Dramatic music streamed from the TV and two people stood with their backs to each other, tears streaming from the woman’s eyes.
“What’s this?” Nella asked.
“You Only Live Once,” Mimi said. “This girl’s slept with about everyone on the show, not that I blame her all that much. I could do some wicked things to that Julian. She’s pregnant, but not sure who the father is. The guy acts all shocked that she cheated on him, but he’s had a thing going on with her supposedly best friend for the last season and a half. She’s probably not really pregnant though. It’ll probably turn out to be cancer.”
Nella’s phone buzzed in her pocket, and she turned her attention away from the show.
How’s the new job? Jason texted.
So far so good. The old lady seems a little crazy. It’s pretty much just a babysitting job. What are you up to?
Nella looked up see Mimi watching her.
“Boyfriend?” Mimi asked.
“Yeah. From back home.”
“How long you two been dating?”
“Year and a half.”
“And how old are you now?”
“Are you two serious?”
Nella squirmed. “Pretty serious.”
“You’re too young to be serious.” Mimi’s eyes turned back to the television.
Nella’s phone rang before she could respond. She walked away from Mimi into the kitchen before answering.
“Daniella? It’s Linda. I just got to work. How is everything there?”
“Everything’s going fine here, Ms. Linda. Mimi just took her heart pills.”
“That’s good. That’s good. Listen, you give me a call if she gives you any trouble alright?”
Nella held back a sigh. “Yes, Ms. Linda. Would you like to talk to her?” Nella peered into the living room. The soap opera was still on, but Mimi’s seat was empty.
“No, no. That’s alright, dear.”
Nella walked down the hall. The bathroom was unoccupied.
“Oh, I forgot to tell you, Daniella…” Mimi’s bedroom was empty too. “… I forgot to put the golf cart keys away last night after I took mom over to the Dearborn’s. Can you put them in my room? Mom thinks she’s still good to drive anything, but I swear she can’t see five feet in front of her face.”
“Uh-huh.” Nella dashed through the house to the front door. The golf cart was gone.