1st Prize: £150.00 Eve Green
2nd Prize: £ 100.00 S. Denby
3rd Prize: £ 75.00 Chris Foster
The Ravages of Time
“Are you the Doctor? “ The voice was wobbly and laden with confusion.
I handed her the cup of tea, carefully making sure that her trembling fingers had gripped the cup firmly. “No, are you expecting one?”
She shook her head as confusion swept over her, “I don’t think I’m ill”
“I don’t either,” I agreed “You look in good health to me”
She leaned forward in a clandestine manner, “It’s just my flamin’ memory dear. So annoying, for example, I can’t find my glasses today and I need them if I’m going to do my knitting.”
“They are on your head, here….” I took them from her silken grey curls and handed them to her and she whooped in delight.
“Well now, fancy that, I looked everywhere…or, at least I think I did”
“What are you knitting?” I asked looking at the beautiful green wool in the basket by her wrinkled stocking legs.
“It’s a surprise, a jumper for my daughter”
I glanced at the cover of the pattern and saw the image of a young girl “How old is your daughter?”
She hesitated for a moment, brow furrowed as she dug deep for the answer, “I am terrible, I can’t remember exactly….I think she is ten or twelve. My dear, time does pass so quickly and children are never children for long. Do you have any?”
I shook my head, with a recent divorce and approaching my fortieth birthday, the likelihood for the patter of tiny feet weren’t good. I had never worried about it before but now, the years, empty and alone stretched ahead of me. I swallowed as a wave of emotion rose from the depths of my belly. “No children” I whispered.
We sat in comfortable silence for a bit and I watched the buzz of activities around the room. Nurses busied themselves pouring out drinks, administering drugs and getting their patients to stand for a few moments so as to keep the blood circulating to prevent sore areas developing and I admired their care and consideration. As a solicitor, our jobs could not have been further apart and yet for all of my lack of care, I was paid so much more. It didn’t seem fair.
As I broke off my reverie, I noticed how peaceful she looked now that she was asleep. Her glasses were at an angle across her nose and her chest rose and fell with shallow breaths. She looked so tiny that it broke my heart.
Today wasn’t a good day for her. The Alzheimer’s had claimed a little more of her and there was no point staying, plus I had an overwhelming urge to escape and feel the fresh air on my skin. I don’t know if it was hot in the room or just that emotion was ripping me apart but I needed to get out of the care home. I stood up quietly, trying not to wake her up and walked away.
“There you are dear, hope you weren’t sneaking off? I was only having a little nap”
I turned to look at her quizzically.
She yawned as she struggled to sit up straight and straightened her glasses“Well come and give your mother a kiss for goodness sake, I’ve been waiting ages, although a very nice lady kept me company for a while…or did I dream that?”
She held out her arms and I bent down and hugged her, struggling to hold back the tears. She was back, who knew for how long, but time was precious with her and I was only too glad to have my mum back with me because I missed her. I really missed her.