a gap in the curtains

‘Terrible. I feel awful. It’s my breathing. I can’t get my breath. And there’s nothing worse, is there? Not breathing? I’ve been like it months. Ever since I come home. Ever since I had the fall. I was going out to the garage. I can’t think why. A slipper come off and I missed the step. Went backwards. Right over the mobility scooter. Pulled a ladder down on top. I was stuck there ages. Calling for help. Brian come out, eventually. When he was hungry. He’s no help. He’s got dementia. He just stood looking at me from the step. What are you doing down there? he said. Then he went back inside. Six hours I was out there. In the freezing cold. The paramedics had a hell of a job. They had to use special equipment. Special blankets. Took me up the hospital. Found I’d broke three ribs. Caught pneumonia. Shocking state. Couldn’t sleep. People dying all around. There was one on the right. I heard them work on her. I watched her legs kicking up and down. Course – it was no good. They called it a day and went. Only they didn’t draw the curtains properly. I could still see her head on the pillow. All that long grey hair. I couldn’t stop staring. I couldn’t help myself. Eventually they showed up. The men in green. I heard them zipping up the bag. Wheeled her off. Later on I told the nurse. Why didn’t you say anything? she said. We would’ve shut the curtains. But I didn’t say anything, did I? I just sat there, staring. The long grey hair, hanging off the pillow like that. I went home the day after. But I can’t stop thinking about it. The gap in the curtains. The hair on the pillow. I mean – what are you supposed to do with something like that?’

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