Midnight at the oasis
By Bonnie Meekums
Vera leaned her back against the caravan window, listening to the muffled sounds of laughter, gossip and music coming from next door. She was relieved to be alone. Earlier, she had mistakenly taken Michelle at her word when she tapped on the window and suggested Vera ‘come round for a drink.’ She had forgotten that Michelle was a boozer, already pissed at 7 pm. Her generosity was not shared by the others in her party, and when Vera walked through the gage she could sense it had been the wrong move. But it was too late. She decided to brazen it out, accepted a cold beer and made her excuses as soon as the BBQ was ready.
Vera was named after Vera Lynn, the only girl in her class to bear such an old-fashioned name. All her life she had known she was an outsider, destined to be beyond the gate, not within. Never part of the ‘in’ crowd for long. Oh, she had had her moments. Until sexy Sam had come on the scene, flashing her size 32A breasts at the slightest provocation, she had been the only woman in an otherwise all-male set in her first year at university. Years later, she heard that Sam was a Professor in charge of her own lab. Sam had always known what she wanted and where she was going. Unlike Vera.
She looked up, at a perfect August sunset. Red sky at night. Vera thought back to the reasons why she had come here. The red sky, heralding a good day tomorrow, seemed to mock her. Her caravan was her friend. It had seen her trough a messy divorce, new love and new birth – ad now, it was here for her in her older age, seeing her into far less optimistic territory. She felt a pang of guilt in the pit of her stomach, and an impulse to run. But where to? Visiting hours at the home where she had left David just a few hours ago were strictly controlled. Even if she had run to him, he would have looked at her with confusion. She found herself yearning for the days when he had long, flowing locks, taught stomach muscles, tight buttocks and an insatiable lust for her nubile body. Now, he looked down, and drooled. But somewhere, in the midst of it all, he was still her David.
Vera remembered their honeymoon, when they had danced together barefoot in the sand at midnight, Maria Muldaur’s voice playing in the distance, as she sung Midnight at the Oasis. David’s strong hands had grasped her, one on her back pressing into her with a burning passion, the other guiding her steps through her right hand. She could feel his hot body close up against her in that sultry Mediterranean night, his breath on her neck as he whispered words that even now made her blush.
In an instant, she knew what she must do. Vera and David must dance. There was no time to waste. Sod visiting hours. If she could pack up quickly, she could be at the home in two hours. That would be midnight. With her heart pounding like a young girl in the first flush of love, she started her car engine and turned on the radio to catch the opening song of Oldies Request Night. She smiled knowingly as the DJ readout the first dedication. ‘David wants Vera to hear this one. He says you will know why.’ Vera’s eyes misted up as she heard Maria Muldaur’s voice. Her body began to sway, gently, as she drove fast down the dark, familiar country lanes. She was back on the beach in 1974, dancing with David.
Through the mist, she could see diffuse lights up ahead, growing rapidly brighter. Vera jolted back from her reverie and slammed on her brakes as the truck loomed into sharp focus. Then, there was a piercing noise and a searing, white pain hit her whole body.
Early the next day, the carers were pleasantly surprised to see David stand up out of his chair, his whole body erect as he clasped an invisible partner. Humming a tune, he danced effortlessly across the floor. There was a glint in his eye as he looked towards them and confided: ‘She’s back. Maria Muldaur. Don’t tell Vera.’