Saturday 2nd June 2012
The open wound beyond the locked door
“AH, OH… yes, come in.”
A woman dressed in black held the door open for me.
Clawed was on top of the boiler. He regarded me with his usual disregard. There were plates of sandwiches and bowls of crisps on the surface next to the cooker. I recalled the food we had prepared for Emily’s party at the nursing home.
I stepped into that room where I had spent such happy times. Three people I did not know were standing together, forming a triangle, talking about times taken to cover distances.
Jenny was sitting on the settee, next to her brother, Peter. One hand she pressed tightly inside his, the other pulled at her hair. She looked up with raw eyes, forced herself to her feet, stumbled into my embrace and clung to my neck, whereupon her sobs became howls, the choking cries of a wound so deep it would bleed for all her time.
“Oh Ulla… my babies… both my babies are gone… and I… I can’t… I can’t cope any more. Please help me. I’m sorry, I just can’t stop crying. It hurts so much all the time. I want to die. Please stay with me. Please…?”
Tears fell from my cheeks into her hair.
“Yes, I will stay, Jenny my friend… and I will try to help you… but I am not good at things.”
“I know. But I’m used to having silly people to care for. There were three silly people here once… and now you’re all I’ve got left, Ulla. I need you. If I lost you as well, I…”
She could say no more. I held her close, kissed the top of her head, stroked her hair, and cried with her until our weepings subsided and we were able to draw back a little and look into each other’s eyes.
“Thank you,” she whispered. “I feel a tiny bit better now. Put the kettle on. I need a fag. Where’s Brendan?”
“Outside, with the guards in their cage.”
“Can you fetch him, Peter?” she asked her brother.
And so the Irishman was summoned and a fresh pot of tea made, while Jenny rolled a drug-stick, which she lit only with great difficulty, so desperate was the trembling in her fingers.