Nude Descending a Care Place

Joe, the care taker at the nursing home, found her at three in the morning huddled in a stair well. Maureen Krebs was her name. She had been a resident for many years.

“Moe, what are you doing out of bed?” said Joe, averting his flashlight when he saw her condition.

“Helen. Where’s Helen?” she said. “Helen is coming. Where’s Helen?”

Joe knew Maureen’s daughter, Helen, had died two years ago. It was Tom, Helen’s grown son, who came occasionally to check on Maureen ... but not often.

“Maybe Helen will be here in the morning,” said Joe, “but it’s late now. Did you see the full moon, Moe? That’s the September Harvest Moon. It was quite beautiful tonight. Let’s go upstairs, and we’ll see the moon from your window, OK?” Joe, who’d been on his outside circuit, took off his jacket and covered Maureen, then took her arm and helped her to stand.

“Helen’s bringing Tommy to visit me,” she said. “Helen is ... Helen was ... where’s Helen?”

“I’m sure she’ll come in the morning,” said Joe. “Do you know about the Harvest Moon, Moe?”

“My name is Moon,” she said. Slowly they climbed back to Maureen’s apartment. Joe found her nightgown on the floor, helped her into it and into bed.

“Look,” said Joe pointing at the window. “You can just see it from your pillow. Isn’t it beautiful? The Harvest Moon. It rises just after sunset and gives farmers an extra hour to finish their work ... so they call it a Harvest Moon. It means the end of long labors and perhaps a wonderful new beginning. But the Greeks called her Helen, the bright shining one. Did you know that, Moe? Did you know the moon’s name was Helen?”

“I knew she’d come,” said Maureen.