But it seemed she’d said a magical word. The receptionist’s head lifted, her eyes wide. “Tour?”
“With Daphne Petty,” Kylie said, writing out the dollar amount for two months of fees. It’d wipe her account, but she was low on choices. “And I’m sure I could get you tickets.” She ripped the check free and held it out to the girl. “If you can take a postdated check.”
“I’m sure I can misplace it for a few days,” she said with a grin, plucking the check from Kylie’s hands.
Five minutes later, she was admitted to the back and down a quiet hall. The attendant at her side held her Nana’s records. “Miss Sloane has been a little difficult lately, Miss Daniels.”
“You know my nana,” Kylie said tightly. “She’s never been an easy woman.” Heck, difficult was probably one of her good days.
The attendant didn’t crack a smile. “She keeps trying to leave. You know that sort of thing is frowned upon.”
“She can barely walk and she’s senile,” Kylie said, unhappy. This wasn’t the first time she’d been told this about Nana Sloane. “I don’t see how she is attempting an escape.”
“Unfortunately we get that a lot with the elderly dementia patients,” the attendant told her. “They get confused as to where they are and try to leave. It’s why we have to keep the place locked down. Sometimes they get creative, though, like your nana, and that’s when things become a problem.”
“I’ll talk to her,” Kylie said, a tension headache threatening to crush her. “But—”
“I know. She has dementia. We know it’s a losing battle,” the attendant said gently. “But we still like to try and drive the concept home if possible.”
She understood, even if she knew it was impossible. No one came out a winner where Nana Sloane was concerned. Kylie nodded. “I’ll see what I can do. Is she okay otherwise?”
“Other than the usual ailments that an elderly demented woman has? Sure. She’s unhappy when she’s lucid, she’s confused when she’s not, and she frightens the other patients.”
“Sounds great.” She grimaced, picturing her bitter grandma railing at the other residents. “What about today?”
“Today was a bad day,” the attendant said. “She’s heavily sedated at the moment, but if you stick around for a few hours—”
“I can’t,” Kylie said, relieved to hear that there wouldn’t be a messy confrontation. Not today. “I’ll just pop in to see her and go.”
The man nodded and opened the door. “Let me know when you’re ready to leave and I’ll take you back out.”
Kylie stepped into her grandmother’s room, feeling the weight of responsibility on her shoulders. The room was utterly silent and clean. A picture of Kylie’s mother, long deceased, was next to the bed. There was no picture of Kylie’s father, or of Kylie. But that didn’t surprise her—she’d never been Nana Sloane’s favorite person.
You’re a burden, Kylie Daniels. I have to work two jobs just to put enough food on the table to feed your fat ass. The least you can do is be grateful. If only your mother were here.
She squelched the hateful memories and pulled up a chair next to her grandmother’s bed and took the woman’s hand in her own. Nana’s hand was fragile and so utterly small in her own, her skin dry like paper.
“Hi, Nana,” Kylie whispered. “I hope you’re doing well. I just got a job going on tour, so I’m not going to be able to visit much for a few months.” Not that her nana noticed if Kylie was there or not. Most days she was lost in her own mind, or looking for her long-dead daughter. Kylie rubbed her fingers against her nana’s palm. “But the good news is that you’re all paid up and my new job should allow you to stay here for a long time. I know you don’t like it at this place, but they have the best care. They really do. I’m going to make sure that you’re taken care of. It’s my responsibility, and I’m not going to shirk it.” She pressed her mouth to the old woman’s limp hand. “Be good while I’m gone, okay?”
She held her grandmother’s hand for another minute, lost in thought and worried about burdens and family, and the weight of responsibility. Nana Sloane didn’t wake up. It wasn’t a bad thing. When Nana was asleep, she was peaceful. Almost sweet. She wasn’t spitting nasty words at Kylie, screaming that she didn’t belong here, or sobbing uncontrollably. Kylie could deal with the snide comments about her weight. She could deal with the jabs about her hair, or her slutty clothing. But when Nana wept as if her heart was broken, her dreams shattered? It nearly broke Kylie, too.
Thankfully, her nana’s lined face remained slack, a bit of drool pooling at the corners of her mouth.
So Kylie left.
Seeing Nana Sloane was good for her, though. It helped Kylie focus. Made her determined. It was a reminder of what she was working for. She might hate touring and never having a place to call her own, but as long as her nana was safe and looked after, well, that was all Kylie could ask for. She’d been a burden to the woman in her younger years, and now it was Kylie’s time to return the favor.
No matter how much it sucked the life out of her.