The Lonely Old Woman

Thriller Restaurant Series – Volume 18

The Lonely Old Woman

By Ozawa Kiyoko

This happened the day my mom was admitted to the hospital.  I was next to her bed arranging her toiletries and pajamas I’d brought from home.  All of a sudden I heard a voice behind me.

“Let me die.”

When I looked, there was a thin, old woman standing there.  She wore a sleeveless undershirt, pajama bottoms, and was barefoot.  Even though it was pretty hot outside, the room was air-conditioned.

“If you don’t wear a proper shirt, you’ll catch a chill. Where is your bed?” I asked.  A patient from the bed across the room motioned with her chin and said, “It’s 307, the room across the hall. The door is right over there.”

I took the old woman to the room next door and sat her on the edge of her bed.  There was a sign by the bed with the name Endo Tsuru written on it.

“You know, you’ll catch a cold like this,” I said and helped Ms. Endo put her pajama top on.  She replied harshly, as if throwing her words at me, “Let me die.”  Without saying a word, I put Ms. Endo to bed and covered her with a towel-like warm-weather blanket.  She was quiet, docile, and just stared at the ceiling for a little while until she fell asleep. 

According to the other patients in the room, Ms. Endo had kidney trouble and she had stayed in the hospital for a long time.  While she’d been in the hospital for the past year, she walked around and said, “Let me die” to just about anyone.  It seemed that everyone in the hospital was used to Ms. Endo.

The very day after I put her to bed, she started coming to my mother’s bed to socialize. My 89 year old mother was half-paralyzed and bedridden.  Her lips were also numb, so she could barely speak, and when she did it was very slow.  My mother didn’t respond to Ms. Endo when she came and sat down on the edge of my mother’s bed, even though she came to socialize.  Could they possibly hit it off?

She came to my mom’s bed every day.  I brought hard candy one day and the two of them enjoyed it.  Once in a while I thought I heard them talking.  “It seems like it’ll rain,” my mother would say and Ms. Endo would respond with something way off topic like, “Yeah, the udon we had for lunch was delicious.”

One day Ms. Endo and my mom were watching TV and saw a cell phone commercial.  “That looks like a good phone. I want it.  Pick one up for me on your way back to the hospital,” she said.  The thing is, you couldn’t use a cell phone in the hospital. They were prohibited because they could interfere with the medical equipment.  I told this to Ms. Endo and my mom.  I had an old cell phone I no longer used, so I told Ms. Endo, “I’m going to give this to you so that you’ll know how to use one once you leave the hospital.  You’ll have to wait until then to be able to actually use it.”

Story 8 - The Old WomanMs. Endo was overjoyed and walked around the hospital with the silver cell phone hung from a cord around her neck.  Even though I gave her the phone, she never had a chance to use it.

Out of nowhere, she jumped from the third floor visiting room window. 

“I can’t believe it…she actually committed suicide…”  For a while, rumors about her suicide spread all over the hospital.  Little by little, after less than a month passed, people stopped talking about it.

I waited in my mom’s hospital room when she went for an x-ray one day.  A pink phone rang in the visiting room across the hall.  Since Ms. Endo passed away, I didn’t really like the idea of going into that room.  It didn’t seem like anyone was going to answer it.  Since there was no other option, I went and picked up the receiver.

“Hello?”

“I’m calling from a cell phone.  I’m lonely now that I’m dead.  I want Ms. Ida (which was my mother’s last name) to come. Go get her,” someone said and then the line went dead.  There’s no way I could mistake that raspy voice—it was Ms. Endo.

Three days later, my mom passed away. She had a heart attack.


**Translator’s notes**

Hospitals kinda freak me out, so I think the setting of this story is quite appropriate for a horror tale.  When I was 15 years old, I worked at an assisted living home and was told by the nurses that occasionally they would find the elderly man who had mild schizophrenia who lived there walking around the halls at night mumbling incoherent words. 

If you`re wondering what a Japanese hospital looks like or what udon is, please click the links!

On a SF note, it could be possible that humans could communicate through technological means after they die  because their brains are computers and  there is the possiblity that the energy that runs them is transferred elsewhere upon death.  If that energy  is intercepted by other machines or computers which are, similarly, powered by energy, then perhaps it could be possible to someday communicate beyond the grave. 


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