Issue 14
Shelley Ontis

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Ethel Jacobs stares at the kitchen doors. The two ladies at her table chat about afternoon Bingo and the coming rain, but she doesn't join in. She pulls her shawl tighter around her shoulders and stares at the doors, mustering her most disapproving look for the person unfortunate enough to come through them first.

"Ethel, you all right?" asks one of the ladies.

"They know I don't like fish, so what do they bring me?" She clutches her shawl. "And are they trying to freeze us to death? I worked for years without air conditioning. They turn it up like they're afraid to sweat a little, but I'm cold and now they're trying to make me eat fish."

She stares at the doors.

"Ready, Mrs. Jacobs?"

Ethel looks around. The other two ladies and most of the other residents have already left the dining room.

"I -- I don't like fish. I haven't eaten," she says.

"But you ate it all, Mrs. Jacobs. See?" She gestures to the empty tray. "If you're still hungry, I'll get you a snack."

Ethel allows herself to be wheeled down the hall and wonders again why she's so cold.

~Shelley Ontis

Shelley is an Illinois wife, mother, and writer who's rapidly approaching her second early-mid-life crisis. Her fiction has recently been published at

© 2003 by Shelley Ontis. All Rights Reserved.


© Copyright 2003 by Cayuse Press. All Rights Reserved.