Two old ladies sit side by side.
Both are hard of hearing.
One is Shama and the other is Masha. Sisters by birth, friends by choice. Eighty-eight and ninety-two, ripe ages with much decay yet plenty left to say.
They chirp like birds and sip on vodka. The reason they believe they have lived so long. Shama is a widow with no offspring. Masha is a four-time divorcee with seven children, four birthed from her womb, three shared with two prior husbands.
Neither can hear the other, yet they talk non-stop, many times out loud together.
Shama is on her second drink and speaks of corruption in the government.
Masha is pouring herself the third and grumbling about her youngest son. The wayward fellow has been in and out of jail so many times that she has lost count.
Shama laughs out loud and claps her hand on her knee. She just made a joke about the new mayor of the town. He looks like a pig and squeals dirty lies to unsuspecting citizens.
Masha, outraged by her sister’s reaction, unaware it has nothing to do with her son’s jail time indulgence, raises her fist and shakes it close to Shama’s nose.
The old woman puckers her face and slaps her sister’s fist. It lacks energy and is more of a gentle tap. Both women grunt loudly and raise their glasses to their lips. Vodka slips down their throats and tickles their noses.
One sneezes, the other shouts – Go to hell! Then both smile and clink their glasses. An unsaid toast to each other’s health.
Shama says her cat needs a new collar, Masha replies that her dentures keep falling out. Shama nods and points at a rose shrub, admiring a new bloom. Masha says she hasn’t pooped in two days.
Both sisters then remember their dear, old father. One calls him a man of faith, the other says he was a heartless pauper. Tears fall and handkerchiefs wipe wet, wrinkled cheeks.
It’s finally time for lunch.
Shama announces she wants chicken soup and bread rolls. Masha finishes her drink and declares she’s going home. She limps away on her cane. Shama thinks her sister has gone to the kitchen.
After an hour, Shama rises with the help of her walker. The kitchen is empty, and the front door is open. She mutters under her breath.
Stupid, deaf, old witch.
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