Mrs Kneebone plans

Mrs Kneebone decided to go home. 

The drain was gone from her abdominal incision and she had her take-home pack of painkillers and anti-inflammatories. The only problem would be deciding just where was home. 

For the past thirty years she had lived in Mr Kneebone’s brownstone. She reckoned she could easily walk back there if she started right after breakfast the next morning. No need at all to phone Mr Kneebone or infuriate him by arranging a taxi. 

The brownstone was certainly a home. But had it ever really been her home? Everything there had been pre-determined by the two previous Mrs Kneebones, Mr Kneebone’s first wife and Mr Kneebone’s mother, and held by Mr Kneebone to be sacred to their memories and perfectly serviceable. (Mr Kneebone couldn’t tolerate change for the sake of change.) Mrs Kneebone had acknowledged the logic of that, as long as she had—propped up on her bedside table—the hand-coloured print of a wisteria-covered arch given her by her brother Daniel when she married Mr Kneebone. 

So good of Daniel to stand by her at the wedding when her parents refused even to acknowledge it was happening. From the brownstone’s stoop, Mrs Kneebone was just able to see the outline of the uptown skyscraper where she was born. Oh, yes, born—not just brought up. Her parents owned the entire 83rd floor, all one huge apartment, and could easily afford the services of a live-in baby nurse and the attendance of an obstetrician. Whenever she looked that way, Mrs Kneebone imagined that if as a girl she had trained Daniel’s telescope in this direction, she would have picked out (and known it to be her fate) the brownstone. For all she knew, that apartment was someone else’s home now. Come to think of it, she couldn’t remember even as a child thinking of that place of shine and hard, hard surfaces as home. 

Mrs Hightower, who until two days ago had occupied the bed next to hers, had spoken often about going home, and had been absolutely certain what that meant. A woman who had been preparing to go home since she was a girl, she now had the added incentive that so many of her friends and family, including her husband and one of her sons, had gone before her. She told Mrs Kneebone she heard her heavenly Father calling her home, and was glad to be going to her rest. But Mrs Kneebone didn’t fancy the idea. A rest home in the clouds was still a rest home. 

So, as she pottered around the bed tucking things into the threadbare tote Mr Kneebone had brought in—the necessities he thought she should have in hospital and the wisteria print she had insisted he bring—Mrs Kneebone thought she would simply set out as early as possible. They were saying it was going to be a lovely sunny day tomorrow. She would head for the park. It really wasn’t very far at all. 

by Leona Medlin


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