Tomorrow Is Monday
by Jacob A. Boyd
Gladys says it's Monday. She always says it's Monday, and she has to go to the bank.
There's a bus that goes there that picks up at the corner. The schedule shows the times, outlines
the routes. She grips the folded paper of the schedule in the same shaky hands that once perfectly
julienned onions for television and insists she'll be back before lunch.
We print the bus schedule for our residents. We draw the bus route. The route map goes
far beyond the enclosed boundaries of Hawthorne Heights and sustains a sense that a world full
of consequences and deadlines and wonders is still at our residents' fingertips, which for their
own safety is no longer within their reach. The ten-acre open air campus of Hawthorne Heights is
The bus never arrives.
Gladys stands at the bus stop until it's lunchtime, when I usher her to Sol Sisters Bistro,
the de facto cafeteria.
"Tomorrow, then," she says. "There's something wrong with the bus today. The driver
probably hit someone, and the accident put the kibosh on the whole route until the gore can be
power washed off the grill and the dent can be hammered out of the fender. Tomorrow, though,
it'll be running without a trace. It's terrible, what they let people get away with."
Gladys uses Jergens hand moisturizer. Only the kind that comes in a jar. The tube kind
has too many chemicals. She makes a conspiratorial face whenever she says "chemicals." We're
in on it together. We know that a secret master race of lizard people puts chemicals in practically
everything to pacify us and make us susceptible to suggestion. Her hands are smooth and camera-ready. It's amazing, really, how young-looking she has kept her hands.
Gladys is seventy-nine. She never had kids. She never speaks of family.
Gladys is my resident. My first. If I do well with her, I'll get others. At three, I get a raise.
I keep her in Jergens. And Johnson's shampoo. Mint Colgate, too, not wintergreen.
Wintergreen is chemicals. Gladys likes all the old brands. We have a storehouse full of the stuff
that we buy in bulk. I siphon off a little here and there with special syringe-like things, and squirt
it into her jars whenever I notice she has used some. I'm like a reverse burglar. She invites me in,
I secretly resupply her with things she doesn't know she'll need, and I let myself out when she
asks me to stay.
She'll never experience a time when she has to scrape a finger under the fluted lip of the
Jergens jar to get at the last bit of lotion, thinking something is amiss; last she remembered, the
jar had quite enough for a week.
It's always Monday for Gladys, and she has to go to the bank.