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Henrietta Pratt, 80, Has a Surprise for You

by Felicia Nimue Ackerman

I seldom go outside my door.

I'm 80 and can barely walk.

The girl upstairs thinks that's so sad,

She's always dropping by to talk.

Her thoughts are shining in her face:

"Poor thing, she's old and all alone

And grateful for the company

She never could get on her own."

She doesn't know that all my friends

Are with me in a better place.

There's neither old nor young nor ill

Nor healthy, here in cyberspace.

Felicia Nimue Ackerman is a professor of philosophy at Brown University. Her short stories have appeared in Prize Stories 1990: The O. Henry Awards, Commentary, Playgirl, Mid-American Review and elsewhere.