At the Gift Shop

2
gift shop
1950’s Hospital Waiting Room

No fun.
No gifts.
No one smiled at the shop.
Little legs –
never touched the floor,
never did anything but
swing back and forth –
back and forth.
Little legs.
Little. Little. Little
legs kept swinging
back and forth –
never knew back then
those legs –
those little legs
were filled with nerves.

Nerves connected to a heart
A worried heart.

Daddy –
he sat next to me,
both he and I stared,
stared for hours.
Stared. Stared. Stared
at an ugly witch lady who
carried thick white chalk.
She walked too slow.
Damn slow.
Her leg’s long like legs on
our kitchen table; stockings
rolled to touch her shoes, a
pink sweather and hair chopped
above her neck.
She made little legs
swing back and forth –
back and forth.

She glanced at Daddy
and me, shaking her head no.
Shaking that ugly head no.

Over and over – these legs swing.
Tired now, yet those nerves,
nerves I didn’t recognize
made them move.

Names were on a chalkboard,
never could read, just knew
where Mommy’s name was
placed – knew – knew
what her name looked like –
Daddy pointed it out and
this was where eyes stared.

People passed Daddy and me,
they carried “Milky Ways” or
“Three Musketeers.” Some carried
“Whitman Chocolates,” balloons,
but I didn’t care –
never asked for candy, not then,
not on those days.
Daddy said hello to everyone,
told them my name – 
I smiled,
didn’t want to smile, but
I smiled for Daddy –
Daddy would want me too.
 
From the corner of my eye
it was the ugly witch with a
piece of chalk I watched.
Chalk squeaking as she wrote,
sending chills up my back.

Marks appeared.
All those names with two
columns next to them – above
each step Mommy took;
recovery was first, then –
back to her room.
Everyone was getting chalk
marks, but Mommy, she
was always late – always last.

We kept sitting, waiting –
waiting. Daddy nervous now,
talking little to people passing as

he watched a thin lady who
carried chalk.

Daddy had feet that touched
the floor, feet crossed and
uncrossed, feet 
tapped and tapped.
He assured me, “Soon your
Mommy would be back in her
room.”

So I smiled, he
always smiled back.

That witch lady, she never turned
our way, damn it – she knew we
were waiting. Waiting for her
and that god awful hunk of white
chalk.

Her phone on her desk would ring
and she stood, adjusted her skirt
then crawled over to the chalk board –
finally, finally the mark appeared!

My legs stopped. Daddy,
he stood up and stretched, and
I just smiled, because I wanted
too.

Daddy and I sat in front
of that gift shop every other
month – together side by side
in a love seat, waiting. Years
would pass and together we
sat until the day Mommy died.

2 Comments
  1. Andrew J. Sacks says

    Nancy, thank you for yet another lovely and telling glimpse at life!

  2. Nancy Duci Denofio says

    Andrew, thank you for reading these lengthy but true experiences which remain part of you forever. Sincerely, Nancy

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