Bequeath My Estate

Entry by: Olivia

9th December 2016
Bequeath my estate
She had resolved not to fight and not to be a loser. But the battle was hard. She turned to him and groped for his hand; it wasn’t there.
She thought back to those days of warmth (it was always warm when you were in love) and of easy conversations and shared passions. She remembered the day they had taken that boat out onto the river, it was balmy and she thought that they were so happy. Much of what he had said in later years suggested they weren’t, but she thought so then. She drifted along most of their married life as if on a slow-moving river. She floated into producing children, never aware of a specific decision, more a sort of understanding that that’s what they did. Those endless days of washing and cooking, of cajoling and scolding, even they were dreamy in their remembered quality. Apparently, they had been tense and disorganised, he said.
She had thought her bohemian sixties look was an enduring and indeed endearing look. It seemed not, she hadn’t realised that he hated kaftans quite that much. Had Rosie worn kaftans, she wondered, and maybe decided against them once George had slipped into her life? She thought of Rosie now, the Rosie that had worked with George. The Rosie that had come to dinner many times with that insufferable bore of a husband. The Rosie who appeared so at ease with George, the George who was her husband and Rosie’s boss. She had to keep reminding herself of that, she needed not to muddle those two roles, and heaven knows they were already blurred. Rosie was so sharp, so quick, she had no idea why George even liked her. Surely he didn’t want all that decisiveness, all that focus? But that was actually exactly what George did want. He’d been kind enough at times, he could be if he wanted to, but she did wonder now if it was all a play, an act, had he simply been doing what he knew he should?
She had allowed herself to drift, it was so much easier than facing up to what was happening. It had become a habit and a habit fed by other habits. The little blue tablets and the glasses of wine, they all helped to keep her drifting, never quite touching the bottom. But even they couldn’t quite anaesthetise her to the pain of Rosie. To be honest, the diagnosis, when it came, was a relief. Knowing that her death was just around the corner soothed her somehow. And with it came more habits, and ones that she would never have time to break.
It was only then that she allowed in the thoughts she had buried for so long. The tender touches, the snatched kisses. The complicated phone calls long before mobiles were around. There was no blurring here, every moment had been sharp and acute, fierce and heartfelt. Where had he gone, the magnificent Nick who had escaped from his life to snatch time with her? The Nick that had had to choose between his old life and the uncertainty of a new start with her. Why had he chosen the safe old? She saw him now, resplendent in his uniform. The pain had eased but it never left her. George had never really assuaged it and the habits had only dulled it. She kept everything low key and that way she didn’t have to feel anything too much. Her parents had died and left her ‘well provided for’, maybe that was why George had been so attracted to her. It certainly wasn’t her body, their sex (you couldn’t really call it love making) had been perfunctory at best. She never said, he didn’t imagine that she had ever known any different. She could practically smell that the sex between him and Rosie would be better (or perhaps it already was). Why had he stayed if she was so useless? Had he so enjoyed the freedom of the money?
Well, he could have Rosie. But she would have Nick. The good thing about being sick was you got plenty of time to lay around. She set about finding him, not only finding him, but contacting him. Those first wobbly words, the texts and the phone calls. The explanations and the apologies. How was she to know that he had been sent to the front line? But he was retired now and safe. The lunch they had together was everything she wanted it to be. Their hands touched and their eyes met, but like Celia she said goodbye.
It was all over now, her days were very literally numbered. She was ‘putting her affairs in order’, that’s what you did when you were dying. The last will and testament – ‘I bequeath my estate’, to whom? I leave everything to the man I love.