A to Z Blog Challenge – Z is for Zoe


Zoe came out of her apartment, zipping up her hoodie as she tried to locate her car keys in her large purse at the same time. She moved down the hallway to the stairs and quickly ran down to the lobby. She stopped to check their mailbox on the way through, and she squealed in excitement when she found the envelope she’d been waiting for. She kissed it for luck and tore it open.

A moment later, she dashed out the lobby doors and ran through the park, heading for the apartment building opposite hers. She was in mid-run when she screeched to a halt, seeing the very person she was running towards, working in the park gardens.

“Annelise!” she cried, waving the envelope, “Annelise, it came!”

The teenaged girl, working in the garden at the base of a fast-growing young tree, turned to stand up as she approached at a run.

“Well?” Annelise grinned, “Did you get in?”

“Yesssssss!!!!” Zoe cried, and the two young women hugged each other as they hopped up and down. “Now we’ll still be together! Four years of High School and soon two years of College!”

“This is wonderful!” Annelise laughed, “The dynamic duo rides again! Did you tell your Mom?”

“Not yet,” Zoe said,”I just grabbed the mail on my way out the door. I wanted to tell you first!”

“I’m glad you did,” Annelise said, “I was getting worried I’d have to attend State College by myself. I wasn’t looking forward to making new friends.”

“Aw, you’d have done great,” Zoe told her, “You’re a stellar student, you’re pretty, and you make friends easily. I would have had a harder time starting somewhere new.”

“You don’t give yourself enough credit,” Annelise said, wiping the sweat off of her brow with her forearm. She crouched back down to continue weeding the forget-me-nots at the base of the tree.

“Hey, why don’t we go out for a burger and a malted to celebrate?” Zoe asked.

“That sounds great,” Annelise said, “Let me finish up here. I wanted to weed and plant this pack of impatiens.”

“That tree has grown so much,” Zoe said, “The flowers look so pretty around it, too.”

“Yes, thanks,” Annelise said, “I think he’d like it, don’t you?”

“He sure would,” Zoe told her, “But you told me he liked everything you did. How long has he been gone now, Annelise?”

“Six years, “Annelise said, “We planted this tree in his honor the spring after he died. I wish he was still here to sit in its shade. He’d have liked that, too.”

“I wish I’d met him,” Zoe said, “It sounds like he was a great guy.”

“Barney was a sweet and wonderful old man,” Annelise said, “He liked the park, his store, the kids, the sunshine, the flowers and trees and chocolate ice cream cones.”

“He liked you, too, Annelise, and he would be proud of how you’ve grown, too,” Zoe said, patting her shoulder.

“Thanks, Zoe,” Annelise sniffed, “Go tell your Mom about your acceptance letter. I’ll finish here and go wash up and meet you in about a half an hour.”

“You got it,” Zoe said, turning to run back towards her apartment.

Zoe dashed back inside the building and didn’t see Annelise wipe away a tear as she continued planting flowers at the base of Barney’s tree.

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A to Z Blog Challenge – Y is for Yolanda


Yolanda looked up as the main doors opened. She was in the process of helping one of the patients walk down the hallway.

“That’s it, Mrs. Landry,” she said.

Yolanda smiled at a young couple as they walked by her with a young girl and a toddler in his stroller. Several of the patients were excited to see the children. They kept stopping the young couple to smile, wave at or talk to the children and their parents.

“Okay, Mrs. Landry,” Yolanda said, “Here we are. I thought you might like to sit next to Adelaide.”

“Thank you,” Mrs. Landry said, as she let Yolanda settle her in the chair. Yolanda picked up a nearby light-weight blanket and tucked it around Mrs. Landry’s legs.

Yolanda did a quick scan of the area to make sure none of the other patients needed anything. She straightened a pillow behind Mr. Stevens’ back and patted his hand when he smiled up at her. She headed back to the nurse’s station.

“Anything else need doing, Phyll?” she asked her co-worker Phyllis.

“I think we’re good at the moment,” Phyllis sighed, “A break in the chaos. Whoops, there goes the bell for Mr. Webb’s room.”

“I’ll get it,” Yolanda told her, turning to head back down the hallway.

When she got to the room, she found that the young family who had come in had gone to Mr. Webb’s room.

“Sorry to bother you,” the woman said, “He seems to be out of water.”

“No problem,” Yolanda smiled, “I’ll get him some more.”

She went to fill a Styrofoam cup with ice water. After she’d attached a lid and straw, she took it back to the room.

“… and I went on a school trip this week, Grandpa Barney,” the young girl was chattering away when she went back in.

“I didn’t realize Mr. Webb had grandchildren,” Yolanda smiled.

“Honorary grandchildren,” the mother smiled, “I’m Holly, and this is my husband Joe, daughter Annelise and son Robbie. Annelise adopted Barney in the park a few years ago. They’ve been fast friends since.”

“He has perked up a lot,” Yolanda said. She went over to straighten Mr. Webb’s pillow and lap rug where he sat in his chair.

“He has always had a soft spot for children,” Joe said, “He used to run the hardware store in town – out where the supermarket is now, and he was a big fan of the kids. He’d fix their bikes for free, and they’d stop by there all the time to tell him of their exploits.”

“I never knew that,” Yolanda said, “He’s one of my favorite patients. On his good days, he always has a smile for me. He’s never a bother.” She patted Barney’s shoulder. “Well, I’ll get back to work. You let me know if he needs anything else.”

“Thank you,” Holly said.

“Grandpa Barney, Robbie can say elevator!” Annelise told him as Yolanda walked out.

Yolanda smiled and went back to the nurse’s station.

“What’s so funny?” Phyllis asked her.

“Oh, nothing, I was just smiling at how cute those kids are who are visiting Mr. Webb. I’ve never seen them before.”

“They come in a couple of times a week – usually during the afternoon before you get here. Nice family,” Phyllis said.

“I thought so,” Yolanda said.

She turned as an older male patient shuffled up to the desk to ask for help with a jigsaw puzzle he was working on. She went over to referee what was quickly becoming an arguing match over the puzzle pieces.

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A to Z Blog Challenge – X is for Xavier


Xavier moved down the hallway towards the Crowley apartment, ready to start the week and his shift as an aide working with Mr. Webb, Mrs. Crowley’s father. He had been working in this location for a few months now, and he liked this assignment. Mr. Webb was an older man with Alzheimer’s. While he had at first needed an aide to make sure he did not wander as dementia patients sometimes do, he had lately begun to require an aide to assist more with his daily self-care and maintenance. Xavier found Barney Webb easy to work with.

He rang the bell, and he heard Mrs. Crowley call out, “Dad, Xavier is here!”

He smiled as she opened the door.

“Good morning, Xavier!” she grinned, “Am I glad to see you.”

“Is he having a bad morning?” Xavier asked, putting down his backpack to follow her down the hallway towards Barney’s room.

“Not bad,” she shrugged, “He’s just being a little uncooperative.”

Xavier found Barney still in bed, staring at the wall.

“Hey!” Xavier called out, in a cheerful, teasing tone, “What’s going on here? Why are you still lying about in bed at this hour?”

Barney turned to look at him, and Xavier was pleased to see a smile tugging at the corner of Mr. Webb’s mouth.

“Come on, now,” Xavier cajoled him, “Let’s see how fast we can get you washed up and dressed. I think I smell pancakes!”

Chloe smiled in appreciation. She gazed fondly at her father, and Xavier was sure she winked at him, too, as she turned to go back to the kitchen to finish making breakfast. Xavier bent down to help Barney sit up, and he gently helped him begin the process of getting up and ready to face the day.

During the afternoon, Xavier and Barney headed outside for the park. They walked up and down for a bit so that Barney could get some exercise, and then they sat on the bench watching the birds for a while. It was a fairly quiet day until they saw Annelise approaching.

“Grandpa Barney,” she said, happily, giving him a hug, “Hi, Xavier!”

“Hello, Annelise,” Xavier said.

“I brought my painting,” she said, unfolding the rolled up paper she was holding. “I brought it home from school. It’s you, Grandpa Barney. See? You are sitting here on the bench, and there are the flowers and the trees.”

Barney smiled and turned to look at Xavier.

“No, I’m not in the picture,” Xavier smiled, “It’s very nice, isn’t it?”

Barney smiled and touched the picture.

“I think he likes it,” Xavier told Annelise.

“I want him to have it,” she said, “Can you ask Chloe to hang it on his wall?”

“I surely will,” Xavier promised her.

Later when he took Barney back inside, the first thing they did was hang Annelise’s painting on Barney’s bedroom wall. When Xavier left that afternoon, Barney was sitting in the chair in his room, gazing at the painting on his wall.

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A to Z Blog Challenge – W is for Warren


Warren had been driving a bus for nearly as long as his buddy David had. They’d gone through training together, and they’d worked intersecting routes for many years. Usually they only saw each other long enough on a daily basis to nod in passing as they drove past each other. Other times they’d meet up in the locker room area of the bus company as they changed in or out of their uniforms. They occasionally even went out for a beer after work.

Warren had just come off of his shift and drifted into the locker area to change his clothes before he caught a bus home. As he came around the corner to head for his locker, he heard someone whistling a cheerful tune.

“Hey, Davey-boy!” he called out happily, “What’s got you so chipper after a long day of driving crying babies and grumpy mamas to and fro?”

“Hey, Warren,” David smiled, “I don’t know. I’m just eager to get home, I guess.”

“You’re awfully happy just to be going home,” Warren said, “Is there something else going on? Maybe the pitter-patter of little feet?” Warren elbowed him suggestively.

“Nah,” David laughed, “Chloe and I were never blessed that way, and we’re too old for that now.”

“Ah, you’re never too old for babies,” Warren winked, “So what else is going on?”

“Well, we hired an aide to watch my father-in-law a few months back,” David said, “You remember he has Alzheimer’s?”

“Yes, such a terrible thing,” Warren said, shaking his head.

“Well, since we hired the aide, Barney has been doing great, and Chloe has been doing great. She’s getting more rest. She even naps sometimes now during the day while the aide is there! She’s a different woman.”

“Hey, that’s great, man,” Warren said.

“We should’ve hired an aide a long time ago,” David said, “She’s been so worn out not sleeping at night because she was always getting up to put him back to bed. Then during the day she wasn’t getting much done. She was either watching him or taking him outside and sitting with him.”

“Does the aide come every day?” Warren asked.

“Just during the week,” David said, “On weekends, I’m there to help. She still gets up with her Dad at night, but with the aide there during the day, she’s got time to herself. I sometimes think she’d like to go back to work at the bakery, but that’s up to her.”

“It’s nice for her to be home, though, too,” Warren said, “Her Dad won’t be around forever.”

“That’s true,” David sighed, “I think right now she just wants to enjoy him at home while she can. He might eventually have to go into a nursing home, but we’ll have to figure that out when the time comes.”

“You never know what life is going to toss you,” Warren said, “Do you wanna grab a beer on the way home?”

“No, but I’ll take a raincheck,” David grinned, “Gotta get home to my bride.”

“You are a lucky man,” Warren grinned, slapping him on the back as David left.

Warren finished changing his clothes and tossed his uniform in the company laundry bin. He noticed another driver he knew fairly well on his way out and hurried to catch up with him. Maybe Pete wanted to grab a beer with him.

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