Sunday, 24 February 2013

300: The Conversation

“We need to talk.”  He sat down next to her and took her hand in his.  His was strong and large, hers smaller and pale, almost so delicate it might break if he held it too hard.  He stroked it with his thumb, the skin pulling slightly as he did so.

“I’m not sure I can keep coming to see you every day.  It’s not that I don’t want to of course, you know I do.  I love seeing you.  But Martha is starting to feel neglected.  She hasn’t said as much but I can tell.  Her eyes, they have this look.  It’s somewhere between hopeful and scared to be let down.  I see it whenever I arrive home and again whenever I leave the house.  It’s like she’s just expecting me to go and maybe never come back.”

His voice trailed off and he stared past her and at the garden outside.  Autumn was doing its worst to the plants and a sudden wind shook a flurry of leaves from the tree outside the window.  “Shame you didn’t see that.  A load of leaves just blew off the tree outside.  It went from green to almost all brown in one go.  I’m glad it’s not up to me to rake them all up.”  He looked at her again.  “I suppose I’ll need to check your garden and rake up for you.  I mean, if you want me to.  Martha will just have to put up with it if I’m not there.”  He smiled at her.

“The truth is I’m scared she’s going to find someone else.  I think she resents me seeing you so much and there are so many good looking lawyers at that place she works in.  Sooner or later one of them will try his luck with her and she’ll think ‘why not?’  I know they hit on her sometimes.  there was even one time I was there and that dick Marcus was smarming round her.

“Sorry, I don’t know why I’m bothering you with this.  Our time isn’t supposed to be about that, is it.  It’s supposed to be fun.  Special.  Time just for us.  I promise I won’t mention Martha again.  But I will need to get going soon.  It’s parents’ meeting night and I have to go.  You understand, don’t you.”

He held her hand a while longer, not saying anything more.  He always ran out of things to say before his time was up.  Sometimes he counted the beeps of the machines, promising himself he’d stay for at least 1000 more.  500 more.  OK, 100 more.

With his lips moving as he counted down five - four - three - two - one, he stood on zero and bent forward to kiss her forehead, smoothing down her cowslick before he did so.  “Bye then, Mum.  Love you lots.  I’ll be back tomorrow, normal time.  It’ll have to be the weekend when I look at the garden for you.”

Before he left he took one more look.  The nurses said she definitely knew he was there, even if there was no outward sign of it.  At least she looked peaceful and he hoped she knew the leaves would be raked up soon.

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