bless the bed

David is in bed – has been, for the last few weeks – a slow, ineluctable decline. He’s got everything he needs, though, as many adaptations and pieces of equipment as the little bedroom will accommodate. There’s really little else to be done. His wife Sara shows me through, then hurries back into the lounge to answer the phone. David holds out his hand. We shake.
‘Thank you for coming,’ he says. ‘It’s all a bit of a how-de-do.’
David and Sara are both artists. The flat is filled with their paintings and those of their contemporaries. Pride of place on the wall immediately above David is a small, full length, black and white photograph of Sara, taken back in the fifties, I would guess. She’s dressed in overalls and a headscarf, turning to smile at the camera from the easel she’s working on.
‘Of course, I’m dying,’ he says, placing his hands across his chest, by way of illustration.
‘I’m very sorry to hear it,’ I tell him.
He holds the position for a moment, then parts his hands and holds them out to the side, like the effigy on the tomb of the unknown stand-up suddenly coming to life to make one last joke. ‘Not as sorry as me,’ he says. ‘But you know what?’
He struggles to push himself up into more of a sitting position. I give him a hand, and re-arrange the pillows. When he’s settled and recovered his breath, he says:
‘I’m not afraid of death.’
‘No. And you know why?’
‘Go on.’
‘The way I see it, death is just like going back to how you were before you were born.’
‘I suppose so. That’s a nice way of looking at it.’
‘You think so?’
‘Yeah. I do.’
He laughs, pushes his fringe back in a boyish way, and then looks at me with a wide and gummy grin. ‘It’s the getting there that worries me.’

2 thoughts on “bless the bed

  1. Hi Jim

    I’ve been reading your blog for years, and have read pretty much every post since the beginning of Siren Voices. One of the reasons I enjoy your writing so much is that I am constantly learning new vocabulary – today I had to look up “ineluctable”. (I’ll use the fact that English is my second language as an excuse!) I also love how you are able to create such vivid imagery within just a few short paragraphs. Keep up the amazing writing, and I hope you find a way for it to become a profitable pastime!


  2. Hi Lilandi!

    That’s extremely kind of you! It’s amazing to think you’ve stuck with me all these years. I can’t tell you how much it means to me & how much I appreciate your support – so thank you very much!

    I must admit I love using words like ‘ineluctable’, not only because they sound good, but because sometimes they’re just exactly the right fit, and save digging around for a whole bunch of other words. It’s very much like cooking, though. Too many carrots’ll put you off the soup…

    Thanks again for the lovely comment, Lilandi. Hope everything’s good with you, and I hope to hear from you again soon.

    J 🙂


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