Writer’s Routine

 

The alarm announces the day with an irritating excuse for an uneven melody. Perfect because it works. Five a.m. and the long days journey into night begins. No light yet, just the stirring sounds of workers reluctantly preparing for a repeat of yesterday.

The dog lets out a barks of frustration as a lone male walks in front of the house. The thought of breakfast breaks through the befuddled mind as it fights the urge to remain inactive. No bouncing out of bed to meet this new day. Slow right sided roll to the edge of the bed, then an arm thrush to stagger into an upright position. Unsteady gait, a balancing act on an imaginary tight rope, undignified thrusting of one then the other leg into the opening of a pair of shorts. The engine needs time to warm up.

The early morning pre-dawn air is thick with moisture as he walks up the stairs to the kitchen at the back of the house to prepare the breakfast. Two bowls of cereal and three cups of coffee begins the ritual. Pairs of eyes stare into miniature screens to peruse any information that has made a difference. The sounds of eating, ironing and bathroom duties reverberates throughout the house as time watching becomes increasing paramount.

Six a.m. is the deadline for departure, to be met by most members of the household except for me. The first sliver of tropical light dances over the surface of the weatherboard houses. Wave goodbye, watch the car disappear around the corner and like a recluse retreats to the sanctuary of electronic aids of information and creativity. The door is firmly closed and locked to shut out the increasing active outside world.

Time marches on, an active mind makes it fly along, an inattentive one grinds it to a halt. Reflection and mulling leads to periods of both. Hours can turn into minutes or minutes turn into hours; the dice of daily fate decides. Thus is the meanderings of a reluctant scribe.

Inspiration flows like a creek bed in a dry country; flood or drought with zilch in between. The tap is either on or off.

Working feverishly on the keyboard, thoughts to bytes building upon themselves creating layers of stone to support the complexity of ideas that form the structure of a new story.
Otherwise, lying on the bed watching the mosquitoes circling the room wondering which one will attack next.

Ten thirty and the next pattern begins. Showered and prepared to enter the outside world of predictable chaos. The ebb and flow of unbridled emotions a constant in the background during the walk from one sanctum to another – the coffee shop. Twenty minutes of automation, one foot in front of another, no thought involved, a well ingrained path in the memory of routine.

Sanctum Two, the weigh station, the second home of possible creativity. Coffee and cake, the fuel needed to plough on through a very long day.

Fleeting moments of conversation coupled with reading and writing; the pattern never straying too far from the original. Struggling to avoid the pitfalls of staying relevant to the world of the reader, staring and thinking, examining every nook and cranny for inspiration.

Twelve thirty, work completed, uncompleted or not started. The dice only knows;
automation takes over again.

Inner sanctum one has changed shape and form by the afternoon light. Neither comforting nor reassuring, but a place that separates the outside world from the existential self.

Period of satisfaction or despair, the struggle continues on and off until five pm when the routine of others intervene. The need for sustenance brings with it normality as daily events are discussed around the table. Writer’s inspirational thoughts and ideas simmer in the background all but forgotten.

Domestic duties prevail until seven thirty. Propped up in bed, no television, nor radio for distractions, just the electronic companion which screen dimly lights the four nondescript walls. Ideas surface without warning; being prepared to grab and mould them when they do is the key. The search never stops, the peak is never conquered, good is never good enough. Productive or not, the end comes when the writer no longer needs this day but yearns for the next.

 

The Nectar Of The Gods

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What makes a good wine? Ask a dozen people and get a dozen answers. I’ll state from the very onset that I have very limited knowledge about wine, no connoisseur here, I only drink the stuff, so that puts me with the 99% who haven’t a clue either. Am I qualified to make comment then? I think so, because it’s the 99% that drive the industry. For these people only one criteria that matters – liking the taste or not.

I was brought up in an area surrounded by some of the better wine growing districts in the world. (The French might not agree.) Neither of my parents drank alcohol, so it wasn’t until I became an adult that I started drinking wine. Beer and spirits never appealed. One you had to drown in lolly water to make it drinkable, the other was bitter and bloating. Wine is neither. After developing a palate for the reds tannin in preference to the mostly sweet whites, I found red to be the most satisfying to consume. By volume, it doesn’t bloat and usually complements the food I ingest. A glass of Shiraz goes down well with a McDonalds hamburger! (Philistine I hear you scream.)

This brings us to last night. Our friends invited us for dinner at their place and I was specifically asked not to bring a bottle as the host had a cupboard full that needed to be drank. Been given the honour of deciding what to drink, I inspected the 10 bottles on show and earmarked 2 for immediate drinking. Both were close to 10 years old. One of those, a Merlot 2005 from my old home town was opened first.

As most of us know, proper storage of wine is critical if you want to create the conditions necessary for it to reach its full potential. You couldn’t imagine a worse case scenario in this case, storage in a non air-conditioned room standing up right.

My worst fears were realised when the cork started to disintegrate during removal. In fact, it broke in two and I could not get enough purchase on the remaining cork, so I did what any good wine expert (cough,cough) would do… use a knife to push the recalcitrant cork fragments into the bottle.

Finding a tea strainer and plastic container I filtered as much of the floating cork particles from the wine as feasible. Two attempts later, all of the contaminate was removed or as much as the naked eye could tell.

Oddly the wine had little nose. In other words, I couldn’t smell anything that clearly resembled any wine I knew, just a nondescript slightly sweet bouquet. The colour was unusual as well, chocolate brown with a dash of blood red.

All this pointed towards a tasting disaster, but to our utter astonishment it was tasting extravaganza. What a pleasure to the palate, smooth and silky, sliding down the throat, leaving a delightful after thought behind. Even the non drinkers were impressed. And to top it all off, we displayed no after effects the next day.

Perfect!

So it goes to show, in this case what should have occurred didn’t happen.

In the end it’s the taste to you that matters and not any extensive wine knowledge.
Having said all this though, I have recently witnessed wine being mixed with coke! Now there is a limit to everything.

À la vôtre

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Smoker’s Story

I was walking into the bank this morning when I passed a young slender teenager who was looking rather solemn, leaning against the wall with a cigarette hanging out the corner of his mouth. The image created made me reflect on the previous evening’s conversation.

Whilst sitting around the kitchen table, the talk turned to smoking or to be more specific the health risks associated with it. The topic was very poignant because the grandfather of this particular family had died of lung cancer in his early forties some 30 odd years ago and currently his youngest son is about the same age and a smoker.

As I walk the streets of Sandakan, I often see many young and old smoking. Of course I don’t know the percentage of those who do smoke but I suspect it is quite high compared to other parts of the world.

This is not going to be a piece on ‘stop smoking or else’, but of the choices we make during our life.

In another life, I used to work as a nurse in Adelaide and in that capacity I had to deal with a lot of different people; some pleasant, some not so.

This took place almost 40 years ago. I don’t remember the name of the man central to my story, so for the sake of this tale we’ll call him Harry.

Harry was the sort of person who you could take too almost immediately. Despite his debilitating condition, he came across as chirpy, cheerful and personable. He struck up conversations with almost everybody on the ward. I was 19 and very shy but I immediately felt comfortable in his presence. At the time, he would have been in his early seventies but looked much older. His craggy-character-filled face told of a life of excesses and through his constant stories, obviously one he never regretted. Ever the optimist he refused to look at anything in a negative light. He must have been in excruciating pain but brought an immediate cheer to the otherwise depressing environment of the ward.

You see this particular ward was for amputees. Mostly people who had experienced trauma of some sort, severe diabetics, or in the case of Harry sufferers of PVD or peripheral vascular disease.

Harry was a chain smoker and had been since the age of 12. He loved his cigarettes and couldn’t imagine a life without them. He enjoyed the odd beer or two and smoking went hand in hand with that activity.

I’m not going to go into the intricate details of PVD other than to say the majority of those who contract the disease smoke.

Harry’s feet and lower legs were almost black through lack of blood supply. In other words, his limbs were dying. On this blackness grew large fluid filled blisters that constantly burst giving off a putrid odour whenever the wadded dressing was changed around his ankles.

The afternoon he arrived, the doctors had decided that he was to lose both of his legs above the knee. Harry took the news in his stride and tried to make a joke of his predicament. Everyone was amazed with his attitude, some thought he was in denial.

Harry could not stand to be in bed lying down. He said it was too painful but looking back I think in reality he just wanted to sit up so he could have a smoke. In those days, it was okay to smoke in hospital, so even though he was about to lose his legs through smoking the idea of not having a cigarette never crossed his mind.

You could see he was in great discomfort but he didn’t complain. He lit one cigarette after another deep in thought between the storytelling. This man had been a born entertainer.

Evening arrived and the anaesthetist came to see to Harry and talk about the next day’s surgery. He inspected his legs for a short time and asked to be excused. Soon after a team of medicos arrived and gave Harry a more thorough examination. After a short discussion among themselves, Harry was told the worst possible news. The circulation in his legs had completely shut down. The creeping blackness had now almost reached his groins. There was nothing they could do.

From what I remember Harry wanted to be alone for awhile. For the next half hour his only companion was a cigarette.

Later that night, I happened to go past his bed. I felt awkward and he could sense it. He smiled at me and that helped break the ice somewhat. He started one of his life’s stories, but stopped abruptly midstream and said,

“You know, I have done a lot of stupid things during my life. Things I am ashamed of. But not for one minute do I regret the general direct my life took.
I started smoking as a young boy; stole my old man’s tobacco and rolled my own. You know this may sound strange, but if I had my time over again I would still smoke. I loved it, those around me didn’t, but I did. It’s going to kill me. I can live with that.”

Laughing when he realised what he had just said. The conversation went on a little longer; I don’t remember anymore.

We said our goodbyes at the end of the shift and my parting memory was of a burly man sitting upright in an armchair, eyes fixed on some distant object with a sly almost indistinguishable smile, a cigarette butt firmly fixed in the corner of his mouth.

He died at 2 a.m. sitting in the same position I left him, still smoking until the very end.

One of the night staff told me that the last thing he heard Harry say before he passed away was “They can bury me with a packet of cigarettes; with me in life, a reminder of what killed me in death.” He was apparently chuffed with the idea.

The teenager was still there, cigarette in hand, as I started my walk home. I wonder if he’ll be one of the lucky ones or if it does eventually kill him, accept his fate the same way Harry did all those years ago. No regret?

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On A Wing And A Prayer

 

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A bleak afternoon, thunderstorms and driving winds. I arrived at Kota Kinabalu International Airport 4 hours early for my flight back to Sandakan. Very early I know, but being the conservative person I am and the water rising in the street, persuaded me to err on the side of caution.

This airport is only 6 years old and I must say usually a pleasure to arrive or depart from compared with most. It’s medium sized as airports go, the third biggest in Malaysia after KL, catering for about 12 million passengers a year who visit Sabah. It’s modern, metallic and has 12 air bridges, never feels busy and you can easily find a place to sit away from others.

After disembarking from the taxi drenched, I sloshed towards the check-in counter and waddled through the x-ray past immigration that appeared to make only a cursory glance at the screen whilst continuing their more important discussion on the day’s current gossip. Maybe I don’t look like a terrorist.

I arrived before my wife and her conference colleagues, waited in a state of misery, some what exacerbated by the building’s cold air-conditioning.
Being a creature of habit I had immediately gone straight to my flight’s departure gate, indicated by the electronic board as A8.

My wife and her friends duly arrived and as per usual discussed work, ignoring me. Feeling neglected, I got up and wandered around the terminal which is mostly empty of things to do.

The major shortcoming in the departure hall is that most of the allocated shop spaces are empty. There are dozens and dozens of empty ‘shop fronts, in a myriad of short passages coming off the main thoroughfare. It’s possible to go into the bowels of the retail area and be completely alone.

Interestingly there are two terminals at this airport which are diagonal across the runway from each other. The low cost terminal which is smaller is always very busy. It seems odd to me that they don’t incorporate both under the same roof; more efficient way of using space and I suspect a way to enliven the retail areas. Anyway, the authorities must have their reasons, I suppose.

I happened to glance up at the departure board to discover, to my surprise, that the gate had changed to A6. I duly informed the others, so we gathered our belongings and moved to the new allocated gate.

Upon arrival, only a small group of tourists were milling around, we sat ourselves close to the front counter. The electronic board flashed up Sandakan and the flight number. A man sat there doing his paper shuffling and all seemed well. Except…

The gate next to us was experiencing some sort of commotion with a group of about 10 passengers milling around an official all looking very animated. I had no idea what it was about, but can only assume it was something to do with a communication breakdown. ( maybe the infamous departure board) I couldn’t hear anything from where we were, but it was highly entertaining and helped while away the remaining 45 minutes.

Being the observant creature I am , I noticed as the departure time approached, a distinct lack of passengers and no aircraft in the bay. Besides that, the little man at the front counter had suddenly disappeared and the electronic sign board had stopped flashing Sandakan. I walked to the departure board and as I am sure you have already guessed, discovered we were now back at A8. !!!

A mad dash to the new gate ensured where we joined the throngs who were about to board the aircraft. ( How did they know and not us?) Throughout all of this there were no announcements on the intercom that things had changed.

Lesson to be learned. Mistake on my part – If I hadn’t constantly been checking the departure board we would have been blissfully ignorant of the transitory change. Don’t assume officialdom will tell you everything you need to know in this part of the world. Most information seems to be gained by the mysterious process of mental osmosis, you are just expected to know. For some reason, the authorities don’t like giving out info unless it’s deemed unequivocally necessary (to them). Who decides this is anyone’s guess, so be prepared to expect the unexpected.

One little side issue to finish, Just before take off, after the safety video, a short prayer was offered for the safe passage of the flight.
Now that really does instil confidence!

Until Next Time My Dear

The night was a wild one. The wind lashed the coastline sending plumes of sea spray out over the esplanade to soak everything within a hundred metres of the beach. The row of palms swayed and buckled in a fight with nature’s irresistible force.

This evening, the sun had disappeared a lot sooner than usual behind the heavy rain laden clouds that had been around for most of the day. The red neon light of the hotel shone overtly into every nook and cranny of the deserted street.

Olivia stared at the room’s window focusing on the water droplets as they trickled down the glass forming little pearls of clear red tinged liquid on the glass and wondered why he hadn’t arrived yet.
It was always like this, waiting and hoping. The knot in her stomach tightened, a constant reminder that this was wrong.

It had started three years previous. At the age of 37, she needed a new direction after having worked in the small printing office of H. J. Young and Sons since she had left school. The small village she was born in, had up until then, been her only world. The last child of loving, but overly protective parents, she was painfully shy and felt awkward around others.

By the time she started work Olivia was attractive, though most would say, not a great beauty and because of her acute shyness, never socialised outside working hours. No one paid much attention to her for she was hardly seen and never heard. Life was slow, predictable and dull for many long boring years. Olivia lived with her parents up until their deaths and after much mental anguish, decided it was time to leave her comfortable existence behind in the hope of creating a new life.

The change brought with it a new job and a new city. The large industrial conglomerate she found herself working in was far removed from the small office she had come from; big, noisy and impersonal. The first 6 months were very hard, she felt depressed and lonely, though she was determined not to go back.

Then, he entered her life.

Steven Muirhead was a man of some fifty years of age who was, in most people’s eyes, a respectable successful businessman. Fit and toned for a man of his age, he was part owner of the industrial complex Olivia worked in. She had become aware of him a lot sooner than he of her. That all changed one late evening when most in the office were working back to finalise the end of year accounts.

Being one of the last to leave the office, Olivia was getting ready to go when quite out of the blue a deep manly voice behind her asked if she needed a lift home. Turning around, she was surprised to see who it was, she hesitated a second before saying yes.

That’s how it started. He didn’t seduce her at first, but it wasn’t long before she succumbed to his well-crafted charm and wit. The attraction for her was not his fatherly looks or strong irresistible personality, but that he paid a lot of attention and treated her, for the first time, as an object of desire. The thoughts of him being married with a family were pushed firmly back into the recesses of her mind. She lived for the moment and didn’t want to focus on anything that would detract from that.

It was approaching 8 pm and he hadn’t arrived. She was starting to worry. Was this the moment she had been dreading for so long? When the knock on the door came it startled her nevertheless. Olivia’s heart missed a beat as Steven entered the door; a sense of relief prevailed. Throwing his arms around her made all the difference, the knot inside her stomach unravelled. Gently kissing Olivia’s left cheek, he drew her head into his chest. At that moment, nothing else mattered.

The curtains remained open and the rain belted upon the windows diffusing the little light there was into the room, to fall upon their bodies embracing on the grey coloured settee. Olivia’s dark long hair cascaded loosely over her shoulders.

He whispered into her ears the things she wanted so desperately to hear. How much he loved her; how he would never leave her; when the time was right he would leave his wife for her; she was his one and only true love.

Many times the same words had left his mouth over the years, but every time she clung to them like they had never been spoken before. How she felt so wanted within his arms; the arms so strong and reassuring, the arms that protected her from invisible insecurities. All was well within those arms. The love making took her to another world that was far removed from her daily reality. This was now the only life worth living. The drug of love had complete hold.

Two became one, bonded by a universal force so strong it defied the laws of physics. The spark of existence itself engulfed the intertwining souls transferring the energy of love back and forth until there was no longer anything left to give.

Then, just as quickly as it started the bond was broken, one became two.

Even the wild weather outside seemed to pause to acknowledge the event. The sounds of their ecstasy joined the forces of the wind and rain to let the world know of their unspoken illicit love.

Quiet, nothing but the silence that greeted the end. He leant over, kissed her on the forehead.

“I’m sorry, my love I must go before she gets home.”

“It’s ok, you know I understand.” But she didn’t really.

He got up and quickly dressed, turned around and smiled, blowing a kiss as he left.

Olivia lay there looking up at the ceiling. The spell had been broken and she just wanted to cry. Guilt replaced comfort, fear replaced security. The cycle had begun again.

She wiped the tears rolling down her face and proceeded to dress.

Until next time.

 

 

Wiring In Sandakan

 

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Half way between the local shopping precinct and where I reside, there is the local district telecommunication exchange – sub station. Well, I think that’s what it’s called. It is a metal cylinder about one and a half metres tall which contains thousands of multi-coloured insulated copper wires.

I know because frequently, when I’m doing my daily walk to the coffee shop, I see an army of technicians working feverishly on a bundle of these wires. Not a pleasant job in the tropical sun, but a job that seems to occur all too often.

Telecommunication infrastructure in Sandakan is fully stretched. The fastest Internet connection that one can buy is a paltry 4 mbps and that is limited to only a few areas in town. We have just upgraded to 2 which is the highest possible in our street. They say 2 mbps but in reality if it crawls to 1.5 mbps we are ecstatic.

I shouldn’t complain really. Before the upgrade, the service would drop out 10 to 20 times a day. A technician investigated twice, 6 months apart. He assured us nothing was wrong with the phone line after inspecting the fore mentioned exchange. Miraculously the moment he left it’s been perfect ever since, well as perfect as it gets here. A little face saving I suspect. Anyway it’s much better than it was, although downloading anything of substance takes forever.

The problem lies in the infrastructure. It’s old. The very poles that originally held a single phone line now attempt to hold numerous cables. They are thin and made of cast iron. Note the accompanying photograph. The original pole has bent over at right angles due to rust and weight. At some stage a second pole was erected in an attempted to add support to prevent it from collapsing. As you can see, a further pole has been added to support the other two and not to forget the four guide wires to keep all three poles from falling down. Crazy you say? Sure is. Why not replace the original pole in the first place with something that can support all the weight.

Theirs is not to reason why…………

You Can Lead A Horse To Water, But…

Which Line To Follow

Which Line To Follow?

I was asked by my wife to make sure that my nephew was studying after school for his Form 5 final exams that are coming up in the next few months.
The response was as I expected, an excuse why he couldn’t do it right now ( this case a seemly urgent hair cut that couldn’t wait another day ) and a promise to get stuck into it as soon as he could.

Well we go through this game a number of times a week which always leads to a grumpy studier and a frustrated and exacerbated instigator.
Personally I couldn’t give a damn if he studies or not as he old and ugly enough to live by his own convictions; eighteen going on fourteen with not an ounce of foresight.

Cruel you say? Maybe so, but as the old adage goes you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. After numerous speeches about how important these exams are for his future choices in life and only to find it falling on mostly deaf ears is infuriating and deflating. I don’t want to drag the horse along anymore.

This drives my wife, who spends an inordinate amount of time with him, to distraction, but she has more stamina and commitment to see it through than me.

A lot of his attitude is a reflection of his environment. Pro active parents are very important defining the early direction their children take. The school and social aspects of the provincial town he has grown up in has not been very inspiring. Small town mentality does not necessary embrace the big picture. Ambition beyond the town limits is limited or in most cases non existent.

Success in life depends on a number of things, but innate intelligence and drive – perseverance I think are the most important.

Interestingly I have seen intelligent people do very little with their lives because they have lacked drive and conversely I have known success coming through hard work with limited intellect.

Of course “ success” per se is subjective; one man’s success is another man’s failure. It depends on the focus. Making money is probably societies main gauge in marking success. I personally endorse intellectual or humanitarian endeavour having never made any real money myself. I suppose if just before one kicks the proverbial bucket, one can feel satisfied in one’s life achievements than one has succeeded.

Maybe being happy and content with one’s lot is success. Who knows.
What ever the answer, the slate is always wiped clean in the end unless you believe in an afterlife, of course.

Perhaps we should all strive to be as good a person as we can be during our lifetime. Now that would be true success.

My Last Swim

Humphrey B Bear

Humphrey B Bear

 

Nothing like a reality check . Having a relaxing, if lazy Saturday morning in the Sabah Hotel contemplating life as one does when in the middle of a mid life crisis, I decided it was time to try out the hotel’s swimming pool.
Not to swim mind you, just a quick slash and paddle. Never really having learned to swim, I can with a sort of toad-like breast stroke/ splash for all of 10 metres and if I’m feeling particularly energetic a robotic / cadaver back stroke. No potential olympian here, but a dreamer of greater things.

Anyway, I rustled through my backpack to find my well-worn-white-activity shorts and my never-been-to-the beach, beach towel. Taking a quick look in the mirror ( it’s always quick these days ) I perused my once manly figure and after missing a beat or two, darted out of the room towards the lift.

The pool was fortunately devoid of swimmers and apart from a few sun baking ( must be from Europe ) we had the place to ourselves.

Feeling more comfortable with this fact, I ordered a beer and a mineral water for my dearly beloved. I know before you say it, “You mustn’t drink and swim.” True, but as I explained, I shimmy rather silly than swim out on a limb. ( sorry, I couldn’t help myself )

A beer and the tropical sun builds a mountain of confidence. It was time to take the plunge.

Off with the T shirt, a final adjustment to the leisure shorts and a quick stroll to the pool ladder. Just before committing, I looked up and to my utter astonishment, the pool was now full of 20 somethings looking trim, lean and mean.

The men were built like Greek Gods and the women came straight from the garden of Eden. Not an ounce of fat to be seen.

As if to react to this sight, my sea of fat decided to become mobile. Waves of cellulose, starting from the navel, travelled south looking for landfall only to fold up and over my shorts looking much like a melting toy Humphrey B Bear placed to close to the heater. ( You would have to be Australian from the mid 60s to understand that one. )

I slinked down the steps and covered the erupting jelly as fast as I could.

Now dear reader as i said before, I’m a dip-and-leave sort of swimmer, but I had to endure 1 hour of soaking until the last of the super beings left the pool.

And before I finish this little ditty I wish to leave you with this image. Remember the old white faithful leisure shorts of mine? Well, just think of wet and transparent! Not a pretty sight.

Holiday at Home

Early morn and the birds outside the window can be heard as they greet the beginning of another hot and humid day in paradise. The hotel overlooks the extensive swimming pool , the largest in Sandakan proudly announced on the website. Not so impressive when you discover it’s the only two hotel pools in town. Not that I’m complaining mind you. No, this place is quiet apart from those birds. I can live with that. Much preferred to that cacophony of irritating noise pollution that greets me most other mornings. The room is cool to the extent it stimulates the skin into thinking that its fresh and alive. A feeling that unless you have experienced it in a cold crisp environment is totally alien in the tropics.
The hotel we are are stopping in to my mind is the best in town. Its not the newest, in fact its one of the oldest. No flat screen televisions here, but what it lacks in modern facilities it gains in space. You can swing the proverbial cat in this room and not hit the walls. What a combination space and quiet. It’s heaven to me!
We arrived last evening after an extensive drive of 5 minutes. Yes thats not a typo – 5 minutes.
You see its my birthday this weekend and because of work commitments and other circumstances it was too difficult to go anywhere out of town. So here we are at the Sabah Hotel 5 minutes from home.

” Silly, frivolous ” I hear you say and I totally agree. But ” a change is as good as a holiday ” as they say and I can attest to that.

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The Thin White Line

A crack in the curtains allowed a sliver of light to penetrate the otherwise dark room. A pair of eyes followed the illumination to its final destination, a threadbare crumpled bedspread.

Eugene could not gather his thoughts. The scene was baffling to his ever increasingly befuddled mind. Nothing made sense anymore even the primitive emotions that swelled up from the deep recesses of his once productive brain.

Fear, frustration and anger surfaced now and again with no meaning or substance to connect too. They were just there hanging like the Sword of Damocles over his increasingly lifeless soul. The fine thread would soon break; whether he lived or died, it mattered not to him.

A fly walking up the wall, an inexplicable mystery. The dots didn’t connect, the picture was incomplete.

The door opened slowly, Rosemary’s head appeared along its edge.

“Hello, my dear, I hope I’m not disturbing you. I’ve brought you some of your favourite cup cakes, you know, the ones you love so much.”

Eugene’s expressionless face didn’t change. It didn’t show any acknowledgement to the woman he had been married to for almost 50 years.The face and the voice meant nothing. He momentarily gazed into that face, but the flame of recognition did not flicker.

Rosemary for her part found it difficult to let go of this man. She was determined to remain stoic and show her love until the bitter end. What she could see still belonged to her. It was still her Eugene, the man she raised 3 beautiful children with. The man who supported her throughout life’s roller coaster journey.

Yes, it was still him even though deep down she knew his earthly connection with reality was now lost forever. His body no longer held the memories, his heart grasped no secrets they had once shared. She alone held the key now. He could never again open that door.

Rosemary sat next to him on the bed and held his long bony hand in hers. Stroking his fingers, she talked incessantly for the next half hour, not pausing for a reply that was never going to come. It was as much to do with her own sanity as anything else. He was lost, but she still lived in a world of memories.

“How cruel; what was the point of all this,” she thought.

A tear rolled down her cheek as it had often done during the last few long years. Wiping her face dry, she whispered into his ear.

“ See you next week my dear. Same time, I’ll be here.”

Eugene stared blankly at that thinning slither of sunlight progressing up the wall.

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