I woke up yesterday morning and I didn’t get out of bed.
There is a magic hour when the rising sun projects flickering leaves on my bedroom wall. I missed that. Joe got up, I made him toast, he switched on the cartoons and I crawled back upstairs. I dozed with ears wide open to his little scribbling and snipping sounds. Work on paper and designated craft materials tends to be audible. Illegal alterations to upholstery, hair and other things are generally carried out under some kind of cone of silence. After a while, Joe carried up his last bit of toast. That got me talking but didn’t really get my head off the pillow, so he went back down and fossicked some wine gums out of the pantry. I sucked on a port wine jube while he explained the rules of a game that involved a plate full of toast crumbs, ten acorns, my pillows and the creases in my sheets. And so, gently and mercifully later than usual, the day began.
Joe’s heart surgery date has been set, so we’re heading into a quarantine period for the next fortnight. He’s on his third course of antibiotics and we can’t risk a new chest infection, so we do have to risk going mad with boredom in the meantime. Yesterday we drove down to the local hall, fought through the overgrown grass, brushed aside the bat droppings and played piano. Last year’s Christmas party decorations were still up – desiccated foliage and faded streamers, blue velvet bows, a plastic Santa tacked over one window, dusty presents under a heavily baubled plastic tree. Blinded by the sparkle, Joe couldn’t get it into his head that the presents were just boxes wrapped in shiny paper. I looked at the wall behind the tree, with its trophies and honour rolls, a cup and a football in a cabinet, and two laminated photographs of soldier’s graves. I wondered if they were as empty as the presents. I swept up a bit, while Joe played his concerto, and the kids who once went to school here looked down from the walls. Middle aged and older, many of them are still in the valley. Most of them don’t come to the Christmas parties any more.
At home in the afternoon, the northern light struck out across the floorboards and we rolled around between the origami shadows. As winter progresses, the sun will flow further and further into this room.