A young girl
By Bonnie Meekums
One gnarled hand reached across, her body listing as she grabbed the other wrist and brought it forward to hold her spoon. Another battle to eat. Was it worth it? Why not simply stop eating? How long would it take to die?
But then there was her daughter. She couldn’t do that to her. Flo’s toes pointed upward, as if reaching for her thoughts, defying the stasis to which she was condemned.
Sandy was late again. She had promised she would be here, to help. Mustn’t be selfish, though. There was bound to be a reason.
The door opened. Resentment forgotten, Flo’s face lit up. Sandy had seen Flo first and watched as Flo’s face showed all her stories of worry, laughter and tears, transformed in the instant she beheld her daughter and was 40 again, welcoming her family home.
Sandy kissed her mother, gently touching Flo’s newly set hair. Flo stifled her inclination to chide her daughter: that cost me five quid! I’m not made of money, you know!
Instead, Flo watched as her daughter settled into the hard seat she had brought with her from along the corridor. I wonder what she has brought for me today? Sandy produced a photograph from her capacious handbag and handed it to her mother. Flo’s hands trembled a little more than usual as she looked through hazy eyes, at the young girl sitting on the hillside with her beau. Oh George, if you could see me now. I bet you never thought I’d come to this.
‘Eat your pudding, Mum. It’s getting cold’. Flo obediently lifted a piece of pie to her mouth. Damn this pie, it’s always falling to bits. She dabbed at her mouth, just too late, with the tissue she clenched in her one good fist.
Later, as she negotiated her way to the bathroom like a novice on a rope bridge, Flo tried to tell her daughter the story of the photograph, sensing the urgent need to tell her all there was to tell about this man, her father. As she opened her mouth to speak, Sandy wrenched her back to reality: ‘don’t talk, Mum. Concentrate on walking’.