Someone had attached plastic streamers to the handlebars of Vivee Driscoll’s wheelchair—gaudy neon yellow and electric blue ones, just like those in the colorized version of her cinema classic, Girl on a Bike. A glance at the wall, and an original movie poster from the film almost mirrored the scene before Marni: a much younger Vivee, tearing down a hill on her bicycle, a crazy, youthful smile on her face. Film noir heavies in trench coats, club-wielding coppers, and an escaped gorilla were in hot pursuit of that Vivee Driscoll. The present day model was a tiny china doll with a head of thinning white hair, confined to a wheelchair and dozing in the shaft of sunlight spilling through the window of Room 209 in the east wing of Whittier Hill Retirement Community.
A flotilla of Mylar balloons drifted in the corner, some already loosing their oomph. A bouquet of long-stemmed red roses fared better. There were birthday cards along the sill, atop the heating unit, the deck shuffled and reshuffled whenever a nurse or visitor shifted the curtains Marni imagined. She moved quietly, carefully, past the dozing birthday girl and reached for the latest card tumbled over, righting it. At one bookend of the cards was Vivee’s Emmy, which she’d taken home in the 1970s for an ABC movie-of-the-week based on John Greenleaf Whittier’s eerie poem of the same name, The Dead Ship of Harpswell. Marni had watched a grainy copy of the flick online weeks earlier, when she took the volunteer position.