By Diane Fitzsimmons
After his breakfast of shredded wheat, dry toast, black coffee and an Ensure chaser, Ned set his tray on the gray linoleum floor outside his door. At his feet a pink plastic baby rattle lay, like a tiny dog bone, on top of today’s schedule of activities.
He picked up the rattle and the flyer and shuffled back into his room. He placed the rattle on the heating register. The flyer read:
Happy New Year!
Autumn Oaks Caring Center invites you to join us in the Activities Room
Baby New Year Cake Toppers
Guess That Song
Paper Plane Contest
Ned tossed the flyer into the trash can by his bed. He clicked on the TV, hoping against hope there would be something decent on today.
Matt Lauer and Kathy Lee were yelling over a chaotic crowd.
“Of course — the Rose Bowl Parade,” said Ned.
Maury Povich popped on proudly introducing the real baby-daddy to a tear-stained teenager. The girl on TV was about the same age as Ned’s granddaughter. Although she didn’t look like Ginny, except maybe a little around the eyes. It had been six months since she visited and they had played Uno.
Lee Marvin filled the screen, “Which one of you guys wants to be a general?” Ned settled back to watch The Dirty Dozen, even though he’d seen it a dozen times already.
A rap at the door.
Too early for lunch.
A big baby wearing a pink bonnet and dingy white boxers walked in. The man-baby chewed the stump of a fat cigar. A silver sash across his hairy chest claimed he was Baby New Year.
“Have you seen my rattle?”
Ned adjusted his hearing aid and reached for his glasses. He handed the baby his rattle.
“Thanks,” the big baby said. The tiny rattle rested flat on his palm. “It’s warm.”
“Yeah. Sorry. It was on the register.”
“No problem. Well, I’m late for the party. See ya around, Ned.”
“Uh, yeah. See ya.”
Ned turned back to the TV. Lee Marvin pointed his finger and yelled — something.
Diane Fitzsimmons enjoys connecting with fellow writers. For two summers, she participated in the Iowa Summer Writing Festival at The University of Iowa and currently attends workshops and creative writing classes through Washington University in St. Louis. Diane lives in St. Louis County, Missouri, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.