This present tense story is tender, poignant, and not one bit melodramatic. The story moves back and forth in its point of view, from Henry to Maggie. Maggie is suffering from dementia or something that is slowly taking her memory. "Instead there were bits of her that were missing, gone, as if they'd never existed in the first place." She hears different voices, Narrator, Riddle, Analyst, Translator, Rememberer, and Caretaker. These voices emanate from the pipes in the house, hence "Pipe People." "Under the water the voice is deeper, a gurgling bellow from the pipes." Water figures as an motif in the story evoking ideas of birth, cleansing, and baptism. The house has become the mother and Maggie the fetus, infantile.
Maggie's mother died three months earlier and was an impetus in Maggie's quickening decline.
A funny incident in the story is when Maggie squirts water on Beth, the neighbor who checks in on Maggie.
The story reminds me of Alice Munro's story, "The Bear Came Over the Mountain." When in a long term loving relationship, the healthy spouse remains caring and loses any selfishness and adapts to the new reality.
"Henry wasn't sure what was worse, her deterioration or the anticipation of her deterioration. Awaiting the tug of a string on a loose tooth, the lurch of a rollercoaster, bracing for the worst occupied the bulk of his time, and it wasn't long before he was forced to ask Beth to check in on Maggie regularly."
"When these memories are altered, they've re-etched and mapped themselves new routes along Maggie's brain. They shift, digress and forge new paths until their jagged trails are only recognizable to Maggie."
Link to an interview with Jennifer Popa at Indiana Review. "Pipe People" is in the current issue, nine, of Grist: The Journal for Writers.