Margaret McLeod


I'm afraid to go out, especially since I lost my eyesight. Once I did, and I fell and broke some bones. My collarbone and three of my ribs. I must have slipped or something. The collarbone was the worst. The other ones were just painful. I don't want to go out again. This apartment is a prison. There's always a buzzing sound, like a big fly.

I can't go out, and no doctor will come. I'm on alert most of the time. I worry. What if I have to go to the doctor? What if I get sick? What if I get hurt again? I'm okay if I don't have to do much. People bring me things, and I have Talking Books. I listen to books, listen to music. I like mysteries. Children's books, too, because they remind me of when everything was okay. I could run and play.

I can't go out. I feel anxious. Worry about bad things happening. One time, I was going down some steps and then I put my foot down and couldn't feel the next step down and I couldn't go back up the steps again. I was trapped and I was scared.

All my muscles ache and my skin itches. My eyes are itchy. But it's probably nothing. Remember when doctors came to your house? They don't do that anymore.

I have trouble getting dressed sometimes.

People bring me food. Family brings me fast food. My sister Cathy she's mad at me because I won't leave the house. She says just go and do it. She's never had a broken bone in her life. I ask her to get things for me, but she won't help me, even though she's perfect. She can see. She barely gets me food. A hamburger and French fries today.

They taste okay, I guess, but everything's cold by the time it gets here. I eat it anyway. I have to. Sometimes she forgets to bring food, but she never forgets to talk about how well she's doing, how great her job is. She can hear the buzzing, but she says it's just a fly.

One time, my sister and her husband said they would drag me to the hospital. And they started to do it. And they did. I cried all the way there. It hurt. I had three broken ribs. Next time they need to get an ambulance.

Meals on Wheels comes five days a week. I don't like their food.I look around at my room. The brown-gold blob is the couch. The orange and red thing is probably the bedroom curtains.

I'm not sure about the gleam on the opposite wall. I think there's a picture there. I hate it when things move around. I can never find anything. Even in here, and it's not a big apartment. One bedroom. Kitchen's tiny. I don't use the stove. It's too dangerous. I should get a toaster oven. I know how to use the microwave, too. I put something in and I push the button.

I like my social worker. Her name's Joanne. She worries about me. She wants me to go to the doctor. But if I'm really sick, the ambulance will come. Joanne talks to me, asks what I've been doing. She's nice. I wish she was here all the time. But what if she stops coming? I don't know what I'll do if she stops coming.

I'll be left all alone. I don't want to be alone. I hear things. When I'm alone, sometimes I feel like there's somebody else in the house. There could be a sound, or I hear someone breathing, or I smell someone's breathe. But there's nobody there. Most of the time. Sometimes it's Meals on Wheels or CNIB or Joanne. I hate the people who don't come. I hate the people who do. You know, I get scared when anybody knocks and I don't know who they are. I ask "Who are you?" I think I sound really shrill, but it's only because I'm afraid. "I have a knife!" I do. And it's really sharp. I know where the big knives are, and I know what they can cut. I can usually find them. It's not a big apartment. But then I'm afraid I'm going to cut myself, so I don't go get it. I feel like cutting myself, but I don't want to. I just like to know that it's there.

I hear the buzzing again. I wish it would stop.


Margaret McLeod lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, with her husband and some dogs, and has previously been published in Amethyst Review, Antigonish Review, Contemporary Verse 2, Cormorant, Dalhousie Review, Event, Fiddlehead, Pottersfield Portfolio, River Readings and Room.