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Elida



Elida didn't give a shit. Not about punching in early, letting Moises know when the Sun-Brite was running low, cleaning her housekeeping cart, mixing up her trash with the cardboard—which she never broke down anyway—restocking the shelves in the supply closet, taking no longer than thirty minutes for lunch, taking no longer than two fifteen minute breaks, having food on her housekeeping cart, attending the mandatory in-service meetings, leaving early, forgetting to punch out, and ripping the goddamn vacuum cleaner cord right out of the wall.

“See this?” Moises cried, pointing to the prong that had broken off in the outlet. “How did this happen?”

Elida shrugged, her arms folded across her chest. Her name tag was upside-down. “Maybe loose?”

“No! It's because you were too lazy to walk down the hall and unplug it at the outlet! I told you a hundred times not to yank on the cord! You see what happens? You could start a fire! Worse!”

“Ohhh!” Elida said, covering her mouth, pretending that she suddenly realized the consequences of her actions, pretending that she was paying attention at all while her thoughts were on the 275 million jackpot drawing this Thursday.

“Now I have to turn off the power to pull this prong out!” Moises gestured toward the door to room 115. “And this room will partially lose power because of it.” It didn't matter that room 115 was vacant for the moment.

“Ohhh!” Elida said, opening her eyes wide in mock wonderment, pretending to understand the gravity of what she had done.

“Don't do it again! Ok?” Moises stormed off. Elida shrugged because she didn't give a shit.

Three days later, Moises found another broken prong in another outlet around the corner. The outlet cover was charred and partially melted. When he got down to the maintenance room to grab the pliers, he found the vacuum cleaner with the broken plug on the floor beside the workbench. A sticky note on the handle said borken in red Sharpie.


“Welcome to Shady Acres Rest Home,” the smarmy little man with the plastic hair and the ill-fitting gray suit said, gesturing the family into his office. He sat them down at his tidy desk and went on to reassure the Robinsons that Mr. Robinson's mother, who was eighty-nine but smart as a whip, would receive the utmost attention and care while residing at Shady Acres, and be treated with dignity and respect. He reassured them that her medications would be administered by one of the three full-time nurses, that she would be given three nutritious meals daily, along with snacks, exercise and activities; also, that he understood the family's position, and would like to express his thanks, gratitude and honor for being given the lofty privilege of caring for Irene Robinson in her twilight years. This spiel acted as a perfect segue, of course, to the matter of the significant security deposit and first six months of room rental, round-the-clock medical care, and meals. Papers were signed and counter-signed, thanks, gratitude and honor were recapitulated, and the Robinsons were ushered out the door, have a wonderful rest of your day, don't worry about a thing, and we will see you next week. He offered them a toothy and altogether unconvincing grin as he handed them off to Mimi at the reception desk.

Room 115 was deep cleaned, freshly painted, and ready to go when Mrs. Robinson moved in the following Monday. Elida had neglected to clean the fingerprints streaking one of the windows, and she had left a dirty rag in the bathroom, but that was why Moises personally inspected every prepped room the evening before a move-in, now wasn't it? I swear, he thought, jamming the rag into his back pocket, she's going to give me a heart attack. He had even taken the precaution of rewiring the outlet that Mrs. Robinson's oxygen machine would occupy to its own circuit. He remembered the broken prong in the outlet right outside this door just last week. You can't take chances with oxygen, no, sir.

The move-in came and went without pomp and circumstance, much to Moises's relief. All the furniture fit (except for the ridiculous sideboard, which Moises told them over and over wouldn't fit, no matter which corner they tried to maneuver it into), there were no guilt-ridden mental breakdowns or screaming matches between family members, and the new resident was both cognizant of what was happening and ok with it all. The staff of Shady Acres Rest Home breathed a collective sigh of relief; all but Elida, because she didn't give a shit.

It was a full week-and-a-half later before she could get into Irene Robinson's room to clean and tidy. She was supposed to make an appearance daily, but because the woman never seemed to leave, and because she had so many extra rooms this week due to Annetta being out with the flu, Elida wasn't able to make it around. But how dirty could it have gotten, anyway? Irene had only been here for a week. Besides, who was checking? Who really gave a shit?

After spying Irene Robinson one morning watching Good Morning, America with the others in the activities room, Elida made a beeline for room 115. She could at least wipe down the mirrors and change the roll of toilet paper in the bathroom before her mid-morning coffee break, maybe even vacuum...not that she really gave a shit.

She knocked, waited, then used her key to unlock the door. Elida poked her head in. “Housekeeping...?” No answer. Perfect. Elida pushed the door open.

The next morning, Irene Robinson did not go the activity room, nor did she watch Good Morning, America, because she was dead. The morning nurse found her in her bed, cold as a popsicle and just as flexible, with her mask on her face and the oxygen machine unplugged beside her. A prong that had broken off of a plug was stuck in the outlet.

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