*Six Days

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A six day wait.

Submitted: May 13, 2012

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Submitted: May 13, 2012

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SIX DAYS

Six days to go.

Always the same. I’m always telling Gabriel to look after himself more but he never takes any notice. I see he’s pretending not to cough. At any moment he’ll go to the kitchen to prepare honey, lemon, with hot water. Last night he added whisky to help him sleep. I could smell it when he got into bed. He hasn’t got a cold! Of course not. It’s an allergy. Nowadays colds don’t exist, but allergies, do.
What’s today? Grey, everything grey. A day to spend in bed, a fire in the fireplace, of books, of hot drinks. Of spending the day thinking about the cold night that will soon arrive. Of feeling comfortable and protected from the elements. Of doing nothing unless it’s absolutely necessary. A day that is to bear and get through but not lived. And in the summer when the sun shines to let it remain forgotten.
When we were children summers seemed to be very long and very far apart. As adults the winters seem longer and the summers arrive slower.
Why doesn’t he look after himself more? His mother gave him some shirts last winter and they are still unwrapped. He says she treats him like a child. That’s what he is. His greying hair doesn’t fool me or his mother. At last he’s gone out.
The bottle of whisky is evaporating or one of the children is drinking it. Why won’t he say it’s him? One of his complexes, I suppose, but at his age, what stupidity!

I went with Gabriel to see his brother, John, whose wife, Mary, was in the hospital to have their first baby. When she was in labour the baby’s heart stopped beating, so he was delivered by emergency caesarean but the baby didn’t survive, even though the doctor did everything she could for fifteen minutes to save him. We accompanied John home and found the house was a disaster, and the sink was full of dirty plates.

Last night he washed up his glass. He only does that when they smell of alcohol or doesn’t want anyone to guess the truth. But the level in the bottle is going down.
There was the biscuit season. There were crumbs in his pockets and in books. When a packet was down to the last two – abracadabra! A new packet appeared in the kitchen cupboard as if by magic. What does he think we think? That we haven’t got eyes? He felt free even when the eldest daughter said that it looked as if his trousers had shrunk.
Where’s he put his socks? He’s always complaining that he hasn’t got a pair of socks. It’s easy to complain when one sock is in the bathroom and its companion is under the bed. He doesn’t know how to do anything. When my head began to ache so much I could barely see, and his mother couldn’t come round to help us out, he put all the washing in a hot wash. It was all ruined. He was angry because I was ill. Revenge.
Men invent machines thinking of women. They say it’s to save us time, then they give us more work.
How many sweaters, socks, pyjamas, have passed through my hands in all these years? Repairs, ironing, hanging it out, bringing it in. That’s laundry work.
What are we going to eat today? The list of things he doesn’t like is longer than that of the things he does like. A man’s problems in eating have their origin in his mother. The one who pays the price is his wife. As a small boy he didn’t like vegetables, my mother-in-law told me, and now I have to put up with a middle-aged child with greying hair who still refuses to eat vegetables. He is a spoilt boy. I refuse to give in to any more silliness. I’m going to eat out and he can make do with what there is.
Shops are nicer at midday. I’m going to stroll round slowly and look at all the goods available. How is it possible? A badly printed book. The ink has been smudged over a whole paragraph. They can’t sell it in that condition. I tried to tell the shop assistant about the book being ruined. I shouldn’t have wasted my time. She didn’t even seem to see me.
A sweater has a button missing and it’s coming apart in one of the seams. What are the shop assistants doing to let something like that escape them? The two assistants are talking about a programme they have seen on television. Their comments are not very profound. If the one who is chewing gum thought with the same intensity as she chews, she would be a genius. But I doubt it. I must be invisible, I passed near the girls but neither of them saw me. They carried on talking.
There are times when it’s great to go shopping. Today is not one of those days. There’s no atmosphere. A fine, cold drizzle is falling. I don’t want to slip up or wait for a bus either, so I take a taxi.
I left him a note telling him we are out of milk and bread. When I was little I drank chocolate, or milk with honey and cinnamon. Time passed, then tea and coffee the adults’ drinks were in. Let’s see if he has had a drop of whisky. No. Seems like he needs it to sleep but not to keep him awake. What has he eaten? A fried egg, a steak, and an apple. Nothing about my absence in a note. What does that mean? That’s because we’ve been so long together and now he’s indifferent. Or he will arrive home later and say something.
If I stay here, I’ll fall asleep. Better to go out and get the bread and milk. What a cold and ugly afternoon! Quickly, quickly, I mustn’t stop. I want to go back to the warmth.
Have I forgotten anything? No, everything is in its place. He must be on his way home. The kitchen clock, the living-room clock, the bedroom clock, all marching in time and passing through my life with no rest for me, not for a moment. I can’t stop them.
He said nothing about my absence at midday. This has got me more worried than if he had said something. Why doesn’t he say something? Tonight I’ll find out.
He’s in the kitchen just like the other nights. Now he’s stirring something in a glass. He’s drunk it. Now he’s cleaning the glass, and his teeth. The smell isn’t strong, but he’s had something. Why does he say nothing? Tomorrow the bottle will be a little emptier. Now I have to wait till he, or destiny, clarifies everything for me.
The room is in darkness. I wonder if tomorrow I’ll be able to persuade him to put on the shirt his mother gave him.

The six day wait is over. He’s gazing at me with eyes that have cried a lot. I want to touch him or say something, but I can’t. My head no longer hurts. I feel very well and comfortable. A small bundle wrapped in a white blanket has been placed at my feet. It’s a baby boy. John had asked Gabriel’s permission for his stillborn son to be buried with me. Even though he is very small, I have a travelling companion. Everything is getting dark. Slowly the baby and I leave the coffin without being seen by the others. Then the coffin is closed. I give Gabriel a last look, but he is too busy with his own grief to feel me pass by with the baby boy.


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