“I grew quite familiar with the effects of memory loss as I cared for my grandmother until she passed a few years ago. When I saw today’s prompt picture I was reminded of her and few others quite like her too.”
Lost in the Crowd
“Thank you, young man,” Irene smiled at him for holding the heavy glass door of the pharmacy open for her. She didn’t much like his spiky hair and torn jeans, but at least he was a gentleman.
Stepping into the crisp cold air with two prescription bags in hand, she looked about her and panicked. One contained her blood pressure and thyroid prescriptions. The other was her husband Albert’s Alzheimer’s medication.
Albert was supposed to be waiting on the bench outside – He was gone!
Instead, a teenage boy was using it for a parkour instrument. Jumping on and flipping off it in the most dangerous of ways.
Irene gazed about the throngs of people. It was November and already thousands of people were packing the streets to get their Christmas shopping done. She just knew Albert had gotten confused about why he was waiting outside and wandered off. Now, he was without doubt lost in the crowds.
“Excuse me, young man,” Irene said stopping the teenager from jumping again. “My husband was sitting here. You didn’t see where he went, did you?”
“Nah. There was no one ‘ere when I got ‘ere. Sorry,” the boy shrugged and leapt onto the bench to continue playing.
Irene felt herself go cold. The chatter, laughter, and anxiety of the crowds pounded in her ears. “Oh, Albert where are you?” she said aloud.
There was only one option, Irene put the prescriptions in her flowery tote bag and set off to search the square. Three sides were dominated by the shops and the bank, the other looked grand thanks to the regal stonework of the old basilica.
Irene trudged along the pavement, peering into the shops as she passed. Her back and knees were already sore. All this extra stress was making them worse.
She’d glimpse a navy-blue coat, spotted a man with white hair and a beard, and felt her hope rise only for them to be dashed when she realised it was someone else.
Irene passed a guitarist singing a familiar song. Had her husband not been lost, she may have stayed to listen to his cheery tune. Instead, the music brought tears to her eyes as someone shouldered past almost knocking her off her feet.
“Albert, please be alright!” she prayed as she made the turn past the bank and headed toward basilica.
“You, madam!” said a woman grabbing her sleeve.
Irene wrenched away and scowled at her. “Leave me be!”
The woman was dressed in a flowing red and pink dress and far too many shawls. Her hands dripped in gold rings and bangles.
“Wait. Allow me to read your fortune. I know a great many things about you. You could be the benefactor of great wisdom,” she persisted.
“I don’t have time.” Irene stepped forward again.
The fortune-teller rattled her jewellery as she made a fluttery gesture with her fingers. “But I can tell you are in great distress, amirite?”
“It seems your third eye doesn’t suffer from cataracts!” Irene huffed and stepped into a gap in the crowds.
She performed the circuit of the card shop. Then ambled around Albert’s favourite clothiers’ before checking their usual café stop. Her husband was nowhere to be found.
By then, Irene was flagging. She could feel her heart pounding in her chest as she arrived at the basilica.
Ordinarily, she enjoyed taking in the beautiful marble saints in the niches. Today she just prayed they’d help her.
Breathless and overcome with dizziness, Irene took hold of the bars of the bicycle rack to regain herself. She tried to slow her breathing as she continued to scan the crowds.
“Oi, you! Get away from my bike!” yelled a jeans-clad man running towards her.
“It’s okay, young man. I’m just resting a moment.” Irene threw her hands up before her and staggered backward, expecting to be assaulted.
“Likely story, I saw your hand on my bike chain.” The man fronted right up to her. “I’m gonna … “
“Do nothing, except get away from my wife!” yelled an elderly yet still strong voice.
Irene gazed into the features of her husband and began to cry. She never thought she’d get to see his neatly combed white hair and preened beard again.
“She was stealing my bike!” said the man, refusing to drop his grievance.
“Rubbish! She can barely walk let Alone ride your bike!” Albert walked past him and threw his arms around his wife. “You’re safe now I — er — um, I’m sorry. You’re safe.”
“Oh, Albert. You scared me so much!” Irene snuggled into his coat. It hurt so much that he couldn’t remember her name. Yet felt so good to have him back. “Where did you run off too?” she asked.
“I’m so sorry, dear. I forgot where you were. I thought you might have gone to er —Um, the — Gah! The —” Albert swore at himself. “You know, the place that sells the sausage rolls we like.”
“Greg’s Bakery, sweetheart.” Irene reached and kissed him, “I went to get our prescriptions. I came out and you were gone.”
“I’m such a forgetful fool, I’m sorry.” Albert kissed back.
“I’m sorry, too,” said the man with the bike wiping tears from his eyes. “I didn’t realise what was going on.”
“It’s okay, thank you, young man.” Irene gave him a grateful look. “Come on, Albert. Let’s go and catch the bus home before you get lost again, hey?”
“Good idea.” Albert linked his arm in hers as they set off toward the bus station. “You better lead the way, we might end up catching the bus to erm — Lonsworth, no — gah! That place with all the red buses, taxis, and the Prime Minister.”
Irene grinned, “London, dear.”
Thanks for reading my friends.
Have a great day!