Forgotten | Valerie Wagner

Ruth could not remember why she had come into this room. She held a vague notion of searching for something. She stopped before the fireplace mantle and looked at the framed portraits. One was a family standing together smiling. She did not recognize them and this bothered her. She wandered across the room toward the windows and settled in the green chair. She could see into a lovely garden. Roses were blooming. A robin landed in the birdbath and began splashing about. She smiled and enjoyed a moment’s peace.

But again, that nagging feeling of not remembering something, made her fidget with the buttons on her sweater and pick at the print on her dress. Restless, she got up and worried through the room and into the next. It was a kitchen. At the stove a gray haired man with bent back stood, kettle in hand.

“Oh there you are,” he said, turning to her. “Did you find your glasses?” His voice was gentle, but she didn’t know what he meant. “Just finishing up with the tea, Ruth. Have a seat.” Something about him put her at ease, so she sat at the table. She tried but could not remember his name or who he was.

He poured her tea, added one teaspoon of sugar, and stirred it. She liked the familiar ring of the spoon on the china cup. The man leaned in, reached into her sweater pocket, and pulled out her glasses. “Well here they are,” he said, handing them to her. She put them on. She could see him better now. She liked his face. He gently placed his hand on her shoulder. She wanted to move but she stayed still. “Do you know what day this is?” he asked. Then answered his own question. “Today is our 40th wedding anniversary.” She nodded and smiled, to be polite, though she had no idea what he was talking about. She watched as he sat down across from her. That way he smiled, that certain gleam in his pale blue eyes, that arch of his eyebrow, made her almost remember something. She sipped her tea. It was good. The way she liked it. She decided she would stay. He seemed to be a nice enough man to have tea with.

Valerie Wagner lives and writes in Vancouver, Washington. She has a long and diverse career as a registered nurse. She writes short stories, flash fiction, and memoir, to avoid working on her novel.