The Calendar

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A nostalgic visit to the past through the pages of a calendar.

Submitted: December 24, 2011

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Submitted: December 24, 2011

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THE CALENDAR

 

Nicky opened the new calendar. Some days were still to go before the end of the year. More as a ritual than a habit, she leafed through it. Every month had its corresponding photograph. January, was a scene of snow and a frozen lake surrounded by trees bent double by the weight of the snow. February, the same lake. This time with less snow. Water and ice. The black, naked trees drawn against a sky white with clouds. March, was a much more optimistic month, this time the scene had more life, more movement, the photographer had captured the same scene on a very windy day. The promise of spring was pushing winter away. April, the month of spring rains. The water that fell and suddenly stopped to let a tepid, not yet warm enough, sun to come out. May, the month of flowers, now the trees were dressed in fresh and clean green of newly born leaves. With June came the summer and roses. In July the lake was the ideal place to eat in the open air and listen to the birds. August, was the month when even more people enjoyed that place. September brought with it an atmosphere of change, the leaves were now not so green but yellow in part. October, rain again. November, and the atmosphere nostalgic and bluish in a scene of greys, blues and violets. December, a light snow in the trees and the light of a setting sun reflected in the lake. Nostalgia born in September matured in December.

Nicky closed the calendar and put it to one side.

 

Later on, in a space between her activities, Nicky went back to the calendar. The second part of the ritual, writing down birthdays, anniversaries, and other dates that were important to her. Now there were not so many. In previous years there had been at least one day marked out in each month. Nicky had faithfully sent out greetings to family and friends. That situation had lasted for several years but, bit by bit, Nicky had realised that her greetings received no reply or that it was returned with the words ‘not known at this address’. Apart from the little family she had left and a couple of friends, Nicky greeted nobody.

January, and a moment engraved for ever in Nicky’s memory. They were her last holidays as a married woman. Nicky could still hear the sound of skis sliding over the snow, accompanied by fear and excitement. Nicky and Edward, each one, trying to beat the other. And the dinners in the small hotel. It lacked nothing, there was even a fire in the fireplace. At night, before going to bed Nicky leant her forehead against the window pane and for some minutes became one with the nocturnal sight of the countryside under its white icing covering. The peace and calm of those white nights, were in great contrast with the mornings when the slopes resounded with screams and laughter, and the colours of the ski clothes broke up the whiteness.

There would be no more times such as those, thought Nicky sadly turning over the page. February, and Nicky wrote down the birthdays of her sister and a friend. Let’s see if this time we can agree upon something. Every year there was an argument about whether they should have a lunch or a dinner. Now that the three were widows, and Nicky’s sister didn’t feel too well, they chose to have tea as the only reasonable alternative.

March, brought Nicky’s son’s birthday. Even though he was a married man with a family, Nicky still sent him a greeting. It was in the month of March when Edward had begun to waste away. At the beginning he appeared tired, as if just the action of getting out of a chair was more like climbing a mountain. Nicky didn’t know when she started to suspect that her husband was not well but she remembered that it was in March when the end began.

April, the month of her birthday. The last with Edward had fallen on a Sunday and they had spent the day in a little village where, after eating in a restaurant they both knew very well, had gone to see the waterfall, and then gone home.

Nicky wrote down her birthday and Easter.

May, the month when she and Edward had got married. How strange! thought Nicky. This year the date fell on the same day. I wonder how many couples will get married on this date. How many years had passed since the last wedding anniversary with Edward! Nicky went back to thinking about her husband, but at the same time realised that it did her no good, she closed the calendar and got ready to go out into the street.

One winter afternoon when the television had nothing interesting to offer, Nicky opened the calendar. It fell open at June, which had always been one of Nicky’s favourites. As a child she had lived in the country and her mother had put the first roses in a glass vase in Nicky’s bedroom, so that while she was reading or studying she could smell their perfume. Nicky had kept alive this love for flowers and plants and all her life continued growing some. June was also the birthday of an old friend, Eva, but as she hadn’t answered for a few years Nicky decided to delete her from the list. However, she wrote down the name of the dressmaker who had made her no end of things and at the same time was a sincere person.

Both her son’s daughters had birthdays in July. They looked very alike but they had nothing of Nicky or Edward in them. They are her daughters, thought Nicky. Now it doesn’t matter, nothing matters any more. Nicky had recovered from the problems and bitterness with her daughter-in-law and preferred solitude to that person who had caused her so much pain. The loser was her daughter-in-law. What an idiot! I’m not going to leave them anything. I’ll spend it all, I’ll give it away before letting any of it fall into her hands.

August, this time Nicky stared at the photo illustrating the month. Her eyes were full of tears. Not one August passed without Nicky feeing completely worn out. The last August with Edward. While everyone else was at the beach, the mountains, or simply having a good time, the final act of Edward’s life had started. Day after day, Nicky was at his side, animating him, and trying with all her strength to give him some of her good health. From time to time, her son came to the hospital to see his father, but it was obvious that he felt out of place. This hurt Nicky very much, who felt very alone and abandoned in that last summer with Edward.

In September was a cousin’s birthday. Every year they had greeted each other, she had helped Nicky a lot during those last weeks with Edward, and since then she had helped Nicky whenever she could. Cousin Agnes wasn’t very well either, but she had always been a support for Nicky, who was the more sensitive of the two. It was Agnes who had managed to get the son to visit his father more often, something that Nicky was incapable of doing. I should ring her on the first of January, Nicky thought before turning over the page.

The rains in the photo for October are the tears I shed on knowing that there would be no happy ending. In spite of the years gone by, Nicky had never forgotten the feeling of fear of facing an enormous loneliness. She would cling to Edward’s hand wishing him to get better.

November, Edward’s death. Nicky wrote down the date every year as the point where she had begun her own countdown. She closed the calendar, slowly crossed the living-room and closed the curtains without looking at the street. Every year in this season I feel the same, it must be my age. Thinking about her past was more real than the present. Nicky went to the kitchen to prepare something. Although it was more for entertaining herself than for eating.

December and Christmas had come and gone, and the new year began. She scribbled over the number of the new year sadly. What silliness! One day is like another, one year follows another. Nicky thought about all the things that Edward had done in his life, and at the end – what? The last time Nicky had visited Edward’s grave she had received a big shock. There were more graves, and some of them very recent. How many people! And all dead! At this rate one day the world will be just one vast cemetery, and the place for the living, where would that be? Or by then would we all be dead?

Three hundred and sixty-four days to go. Shall I see them all, or only a few. This year I don’t think I’ll go to the sales as I have all my needs covered. And with this attitude Nicky began the new year with hope, and yet fearful it would be her last.


© Copyright 2017 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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