Chapter 11

The moment my grandmother’s door snapped shut again the ring stopped glowing. I glanced up at the mirror in her bathroom and I could see myself again.

I barely had time to relish the thought and experience of my invisibility before a groan sounded out in the dim room and I looked over at the woman in the bed.

She stirred, her small and frail head moving back and forth on the pillow. From where I stood she looked like a ghost, an emaciated and shriveled corpse.

“Grandma,” I said.

She groaned again, opened her eyes, looked at me.

“John?” she whispered in a long, drawn out voice.

I went to her bed and pulled up a chair next to it and sat down.

“No, Grandma, it’s David. I’m your grandson.”

“John … you look so … different.”

“Grandma,” I said, and something cracked in my voice. It was the same thing that had been with me in the kitchen when I tried to heal my mom, the thing that understood I had failed then and that I would fail now.

“John,” my grandmother said again in that dreamy way of hers, pushing down her bedcovers so she could reach out a hand to me.

I just stared at it — the wrinkled flesh, the brown nails — and I didn’t move. I couldn’t move. All I could do was sit there and smell the malodorous mixture of scents wafting from her dying body.

“John” — still holding her hand out to me — “what have you … been doing lately?”

“I’ve started another affair.”

“Oh,” she said, and lost the strength to keep her hand balanced in the air. “Well, that’s nice.”

I tried remembering a time when she hadn’t been like this. When she had been completely lucid and happy and would take me to the park and bring day-old bread so we could feed the ducks.

“John,” she said again, and that thing inside of me keeping me frozen snapped.

I stood, leaned forward, and placed my hand — the hand with the silver ring — on her forehead.

I closed my eyes, picturing the ring in my mind, willing it to glow.

“John?” she asked now, and I shushed her, told her to be quiet, and with my eyes closed I just stood there with my hand against her forehead, praying that the ring would suck the Alzheimer’s out of her body.

I stood like that for thirty seconds, a minute, five minutes, however long it took before the door opened and an angry voice said, “What in God’s name is going on here?”

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