Chapter 10

A sign in the lobby announced the nursing home’s visiting hours:

MONDAY – FRIDAY 9:00 A.M. TO 4:00 P.M.
SATURDAY – SUNDAY 11:00 A.M. TO 6:00 P.M.

Today was Saturday and it was barely nine o’clock. I knew the nursing home staff was strict regarding its visiting hours. Actually, in the two years my grandmother had been in this place, I had come to believe the staff was strict regarding just about everything.

The worst was a woman with the unfortunate name of Doris Hackman, who made Nurse Ratched look like Florence Nightingale. As luck had it, Nurse Hackman oversaw my grandmother’s floor.

I went straight for the main desk and the man who was sitting behind it, reading this morning’s paper. I was faintly aware of the sudden pinprick on my finger, and then I was standing in front of the desk waiting for the man to glance up and give me a bored look and tell me to come back in two hours.

He quietly turned the page.

I looked around, not sure what to make of this. I considered clearing my throat but instead noticed the bell on the counter and rang that instead.

The man jerked, looked up suddenly, stared at me with wide eyes.

Only, I realized an instant later, he was staring through me, because there was something in his eyes, something in the way they were focused that gave away the fact he wasn’t seeing me at all.

I looked around again, and this time noticed the mirror hanging on the wall off to my left.

I could see the counter and the man and the pot of flowers and the events calendar. But that was it.

The man frowned, shook his head, and looked back down at his paper.

I stepped back, glanced down at the silver ring on my finger, the ring that was now glowing its strange glow.

Okay, so not only could I bring a woman back from the dead, but I could turn invisible.

I was fine with that.

Just as long as it worked for what else I needed it to do.

I hurried toward the elevators, pressed the up button, and waited until the doors slid open and Nurse Hackman walked out. She was a large woman, the kind for which they invented the word bulbous, and she had an ugly face, rounded shoulders, frizzy hair.

I didn’t have time to step out of the way and she walked right through me, pausing only momentarily, glancing back with a frown before continuing on her way.

The doors started to slide shut and I jumped inside. I pressed the button for the third floor and waited until the doors opened again and I stepped out onto my grandmother’s floor. All the florescent ceiling lights were on — every single one — yet the floor still seemed to exude a dreary and desolate feeling.

I walked past a nurse helping an elderly man climb into his wheelchair. It made me think briefly of my mother and how I’d placed my hands on her legs but hadn’t changed a thing.

As I walked I could smell the people around me, could smell the promise of death, and I wanted to stop at every room, touch every sick man and woman, and rid them of their diseases, reverse their biological clocks so they would begin to grow young.

And maybe I would do that, I told myself as I reached my grandmother’s room. Maybe I would.

The silver ring was still glowing, keeping me invisible. I placed my palm on the handle, pushed it down, and slipped inside.

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