More Than Life

Entry by: Olivia

29th May 2015
More than life
‘We always’, she mused, ‘pretend that we love someone more than life itself’. As if somehow we would honorably lay down our life for this other person, that he or she, should count for more than our self.
Sally wouldn’t remember every feeling like that about anyone, nor did she want to. Men and women flitted in and out of her life. Some staying, some staying long enough to clutter up her tiny flat with their gadgets and tawdry possessions. Mostly they just went, usually after a period of maladjustment and hurt feelings.
George had stayed, she supposed, at least for as long as he was allowed to. Solid was George, solid and reliable. Sally remembered him with some affection, but she had long since let go of the smell of his soap and the roughness of his army issues.
‘Tea dear?’ bellowed the coarse girl from Essex, ‘Sal love, want a cuppa?’ She wasn’t a dear, she wasn’t their love and she hated tea, how many times? Nevertheless, the lukewarm brown stuff landed just in front of her, the liquid spilling onto the saucer. She couldn’t bring herself to try the sentence that would in some way portray gratitude. It took too long and way too much energy. Nothing was expected anyway.
Come to think of it, nothing was ever expected of her now. Sally didn’t know if her children had been to see her lately, that way she was never sad not to have seen them. She just wished they wouldn’t all come at once with all their children. They ran excitedly in and around and muddled her; never quite sure which was which, she just smiled and handed out the ubiquitous sweets.
No one paid her any attention; they talked over or through her. She had nothing left to grab their attention, no little quips, no anecdotes about life in the home. Why would they want to know that Henry was found in Betty’s bed again? She couldn’t even remember if she had already told them all this anyway.
She wondered again where George had gone and ideas and images flashed through her mind but the essential words and links slipped out of range, just there, but just off stage.
Sally got up, suddenly remembering her embroidery and set off determinedly, crossing the lounge, nearly tripping over the blanket that was quietly slipping off Betty, she paused, the moment lost. The thought gone, she sat on the nearest chair. Why was everyone so old? What had she stumbled into? She needed to get George’s tea but the sequence slid off the side of her concentration.
It was the smell that was worse than the muddle. The constant smell of stale wee, it invaded and told her that this is where she belonged, in with the left overs, the dregs, the loves and the dears. She was part of the forgotten and the lost. She no longer had a purpose and what she did know had a fragility, lost like a dream on wakening, there, but fragmented and meaningless.

She had always vowed that she would not go this way, that she wanted death at this stage more than she wanted life itself. But somehow even that eluded her. The thought was there but she kept missing the meaning. Faces drifted through, voices sounded at her, meaningless and of no value. She understood most words but the thread that hung them together was severed, they dropped like beads from a broken necklace.
The days had no pattern, no discernible time, no purpose to them. Food appeared at random intervals and had no appeal. Sally ate or didn’t eat, either way it didn’t matter. The toilet moved and never was where she had left it. Well-meaning people sung songs that stirred some sort of uncomfortable feelings. Others brought animals to pat, she was sure she didn’t like patting things but did it none the less, it was easier that way. In fact, she did most things none the less. She was rewarded with a ‘good girl’. She screamed that she was not a good girl, she was a fully grown, sensible woman, capable of love, loyalty and integrity; but somehow the words didn’t seem to have the impact she had hoped.
Nothing impacted anymore, looking into the future Sally saw something that mattered more than life itself and quietly prayed that she would soon be there, released from the smell and the turmoil.