Does he live a thousand days, or one only?
For a week, or for several centuries?
How long does a man spend dying?
What does it mean to say "for ever"?
He told me to swallow the fear. So i did.
He told me to take a deep breath. So I breathed in, once.
He told me to close my eyes and to think of a happy place. To think of a far-off country that I have never been to, that I did not even know existed. So I did.
To the best of my ability, I did.
He watched me as he slowly chewed his food, mashed it between his perfect row of spotless teeth. Pearls, he called them. Personally, I thought of them as proof of his narcissim. He watched me as I cut the bread, each slice a centimetre thick. No more, because we could not afford it. Not after India lost her job. So I cut, with my tongue between my coffee-stained teeth. And the least he could do was watch and wait to pounce on me when I went out of line. Because he knew that sooner or later I would cut a larger slice for myself to enjoy later in the darkness of my room. Old Mr Pearls just knew.
The waxy pale light's dancing on the back of my palsm. I can see it waltzing with the veins and the mountainous ridges, highlighting my bony knuckles and repulsive fingernails in the darkness of the room. And the crumbs at the foot of the desk, they're accusing me of a guilty addiction. Of numerous addictions, in fact. I don't know how, and I won't know why, but I find myself as a worn woman with nothing to do except to eat, drink and smoke. And to sit still in the confinements of this room during the darkest hours of the world, when all are dead and quiet. I've resined to the fact that I have forgotten what it's like to dream. I can barely remember the days when I'd close my eyes and open them as if eight hours had been miraculously shortened into the space of five minutes. I can't understand anymore why I'd wanted the night to be longer. It's the darkest time of your life, when ghosts come out to haunt you. My ghost is sitting here, in this room.
My brother died on a cold Wednesday night. Thursday's morning sky was of the clearest blue imaginable; of the bluest poppy you can imagine. And there I was, oblivious to nature's wonders, reading his words on my lap as he faded with each line that I read. In the short span of a few minutes, he was gone from this world. A handwritten note was all that he left behind. I crumpled the letter that same night and fed it to a hungry gas stove. I ahd my first cup of tea in many years, and my last. I have regretted that cup of tea to this day; but the letter is gone and no matter how much I want to see it again, my brother's thick, bold writing will be lost for ever.
He's over there, on the bed, playing with the stitch work I tried to finish with my arthritic hands. He's undoing it, working to hard to undo the work of years. He doesn't have much time, I can feel the dawn coming like I can feel my bones creaking when I shift in my seat. Poor old soul. He watches me as I rip off a piece of bread with my teeth, as I work my jaws like a cow chews on cud, as I gulp it down with milk, and as I scramble to repeat the process again. He's tireless and patient this time. he knows it's nearly time. Old Mr Pearls just knows.
I let him out a few hours ago. He's been my loyal companion ever since Landon walked out of my life, but I had to make him go. I couldn't bear to let him see me stretched out like this. India will take care of him; she loves him just as much as I do. So there you go. I'm hearing the wind rush through the treetops, as full of life as once I was too. Leave me in peace to take my time to reach that door I can dimly see. Let me remember those words I burned long ago, to see the smudged ink as he wrote out his last words to me.
He told me to swallow the coward's fear of happiness. So I did.
He told me to take a deep breath. So I breathed in, just once.
He told me to close my eyes and think of a happy place; to remember it, because I would find myself there one day. So I did.
To the best of my ability, I did.