The sun burns down on them. Him and Geoff as they squat in the desert. Could he use a drink, and he doesn’t mean water ? But the enemy are visibly before them and he has other things to do. Now in the garden shed, he goes to fetch his spade, then feels a stinging pinching sensation in his upper arm. He opens his eyes, startled into the present and sees a nurse standing over him.
“I said get out of bed. We need to change the sheets”. The eyes are dismissive, somewhere between boredom and cruelty. The nurse would clearly like to be elsewhere. He’s not alone in that but, for him now the patient in bed, that’s not possible at the moment: ever.
Nearly ninety- two, and who’d had thought it, he’s seen better days. His water works are faulty and his heart would like a nap. but ” no peace for the wicked”. He says that every day, or used to as he talked to his wife Gladys, when off to tend his plants. She’s already gone through death, and soon he’ll have to join her.
It’s early in the morning and the shifts are changing. Each shift must leave the ward neat for the next: patients not withstanding. Standards are in everything but care, it has been said. The heart must play the music not the head. And so he starts to talk, to this young man who’d like live another life than his.
” All I’ve done means nothing in your life. We get bored of being caring, reaching out. Grabbing is much easier on the mind. Your urgencies brush past your feelings. Time enough for them in later life. When young I thought like you.
For me there are no pressures. Only questions, normally unanswered. Did the cock crow three times in my life ? Do they remember you, those people at the bus stop ? It is the essence which retains you. Events somehow seem to lose their charm
Each age looks different as you leave it. Conversations continue but not with you. Plans are made but you are not included. Thought of, possibly, but not included. The sun will rise and eyes will focus on the day ahead. But not your eyes. Soon they will become a memory in someone else’s life. When I was young I thought like you.”