A tiny slice-of-life story about choices, drives, and never quite getting anywhere.
| It took too long for the minute hand to reach the twelve. The pain of watching her wait there, without purpose and without a single care, made him writhe inside. Whatever he wanted from her, she would give it. This was the key; this was what would get him to Monaco. Of course, this was all that should have mattered, but it wasn’t. He hated to be the master and wanted nothing more than to let her leave; to let her choose a different situation.
‘Mary,’ he opened the door wide and took her hand.
She wasn’t surprised to see him. There was a sickening pleasantness to the softness of her palm. He felt the gentle sweat of the palm, hers mixing with his, and he loosened his grip. If he held on too long, he wouldn’t be able to let go. Her steps were laboured and fragile, but the grace he had come to love penetrated every movement. He moved his arm around her waist so she would not have to hobble through the large doors. Perhaps more for his sake than hers; it would be a taste of dignity.
‘I think I am ready,’ she told him, ‘Yes, the time is right.’
She shouldn’t have been smiling. He wanted only to think of Monaco. The breathless crowds, crammed buildings, and intoxicating emptiness of the ocean. If his mind was there, he could be too.
Her hand rubbed his chin. It startled him from the dream.
‘I will be fine.’ She was now on her final bed, wheeling away. ‘I feel it will be fine.’
He wished a lie hadn’t been the last thing she had said to him. And she was off, through the doors, leaving him quite alone in the numb buzz of the ward.
The water never seemed so desirable in all his life. Every Monday started with an hour's swim around the beach and drinks in the marina. The owners gave him free newspapers for bringing in the paddles from the dock every evening. There was never anything interesting in the Monaco news. He had many friends. Too many at times, when the Casino high season began.
He loved the forgettability of his character in that far off place. He couldn’t bear to be pinned down to a new life. Not again. He was that nobody that followed so naturally. He was exactly where he had always wanted to be.