Part 1: A Life In Pieces (click here) Part 2 Another Life In Pieces (click here), part 3 A Life in Anguished Pieces (click here), Part 4 A Life in Mobile Words, Part 5 A Life in Coffee Part 6 A Life in Loneliness and A Life In Rags
A LIFE IN CONFUSION
Rusty stood by the door to Saphie’s house and paused with his finger mere inches away from her doorbell. He was in a state of confusion.
He had been fussing around at home, dusting this and polishing that before going to the nursing home and receiving the shock of his life when he discovered that Agatha had regained a sort of consciousness, and now everything was getting to be a bit too much for him.
At the nursing home, the nurse attendant had said that Agatha was awake but confused, but she’d probably welcome a few words from him. After all, she’d been out of touch with the world for months and there’d even been a general election in that time.
Not the words I feel like saying to her, he thought to himself, but smiled at the nurse and sat in the seat next to Agatha’s bed.
The nurse bustled around, tidying this, putting that into a drawer and watching him out of the corner of her eye. Then, when it was clear he wasn’t going to say anything while she was there she bustled out of the room, leaving the door open.
“There’s a draught,” Rusty had muttered to nobody, the other three beds being occupied with what looked like zombies, and he went and closed the door.
“So this is it,” he had said to Agatha once he was back in his seat. “You’re out of your coma.”
Her head moved slightly, and he could feel rather than see her eyes seeking for him.
“You’re one selfish bitch,” he whispered, “all these months in the land of nod and then, when I might just have found a lady worth knowing, you decide to open your eyes and start messing me up again. But this time I’m not having it. You were on your way out of my life before that horse kicked you in the head, and as far as I’m concerned you still are. I don’t care what you do, but you can exclude me from your plans…”
Then he walked out of her ward without looking back.
“Excuse me,” called the nurse. “A word?”
“Yes?” he asked.
“Your wife…” the nurse had said,
“We’re not married and she’s not my wife,” he said decisively. “And to tell you the truth, if she was the last woman on Earth and I the last man she’d have to remain single.”
“Your address is down as her home…” said the nurse, her eyes gently on his face.
“Well, it was. But it isn’t. Not now.”
“So you’re walking away from a sick woman?” asked the nurse, her eyes hardening. “That’s not very nice!”
“It’s not like that,” he had said, “I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. She left my address before her accident and that’s that!”
“That’s what I said. “Now, excuse me. I think she’s got family somewhere. She had a son and two daughters, though I’ve no idea where they are. But now that she’s awake I guess she can tell you. They’ll have to look after her affairs because I can’t.”
Then he had turned, rather rudely for him, and walked away. The nurse had remained where she was, watching him go.
There’s one selfish bastard, and he won’t get away with it, she had whispered under her breath, and bustled back into Agatha’s side ward.
In a daze, Rusty had made his way out of the building and slowly towards Saphie’s address.
And there he was, standing thoughtfully, finger poised above the bell-push.
And he pressed the doorbell.
It’s not too late to make a run for it, his mind told him, but he ignored it. He didn’t know Saphie except for in passing, but during that passing he had liked what he had seen. And more than liking what he had seen he had liked what he had heard. The things she said, the way she said them … not like his beloved Constance, not exactly, but she didn’t have to be, did she? Nobody would ever match up to Connie. They couldn’t, but that wasn’t important.
Connie had been an angel, and he had simply and completely loved her for all the years they had been together. Nobody else could be like that, surely? He had made a mistake, a really grave mistake, with Agatha because, initially, he supposed that he had been looking for a replacement for his departed Connie. There had been a loose kind of physical similarity, though he really should have concentrated on the eyes.
Agatha had hard eyes, unlike Connie’s
And Saphie had eyes that reminded him of Connie, though not much else about her did. But that didn’t matter as long as the eyes were right…
The door opened and for no reason that he could fathom his heart gave a lurch.
“I know I’m early,” he said quietly. “I’ve had a strange old day…”
“Me too,” she said, and smiled. “You wait until I tell you about my day!”
“Is that someone at the door?” came a voice from up the stairs.
“Shush, Isabel,” called Saphie over one shoulder. “Come in,” she invited Rusty.
“I know I’m early … I don’t mean to be in the way,” he insisted.
“No. Come in. There’s someone upstairs you might be interested in meeting…”
He followed her into the front room. “It might seem early for hitting the bottle, but I feel the need of its liquid strength,” said Saphie. “I’m having a drink and to hell with convention! Can I help you to something?”
“If you insist,” he said, sitting down. “I’ll have the same as you.”
“G and T for two it is, then,” she murmured, and she poured two generous drinks and sat down opposite him.
He felt he ought to say something, but was grateful when she got in first. They hadn’t known anyone anywhere near long enough for silences to be more than embarrassments.
“The woman you heard upstairs,” said Saphie … I’ll explain. I used to live in a convent…”
“You mean, you were a nun?”
“I suppose so…” The memory of that part of her life was something she preferred to tuck away into the back of her mind and lose.
“There aren’t any men in convents,” said Saphie, awkwardly. “And a girl has needs, especially a younger woman, like I was … like we were, me and Isabel…”
“I think I can see where this is going!” he said.
“The gist of it is without me going into the sordid details I was thrown out of the order,” she said, “and I haven’t had cause to think about Isabel for years, and then, out of the blue she turned up this afternoon, in a dreadful state.”
“I shoved her into the bathroom and she’d got some of my clothes,” said Saphie. “And that’s the whole of it. I hope you don’t mind that little bit of my past. I regret some of it, but I suppose being accepted by the convent did save me from something worse. I was on a bad path after my first and only true love died…”
“I never died,” came a voice from the door, “I’m here, and waiting for your arms to embrace me like they used to, and your lips to touch mine…”
Isabel was standing at the door, wrapped in a towel which she allowed to slowly slip to the floor until she was as naked as the day she’d been born, but just about clean.
©Peter Rogerson 14.03.14