Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day 183: Send A Telegram To Glasgow

Alice’s hands are red from the cold but they are neatly folded on her lap. She sits on the wooden bench as people rush by her.  Couples on bicycles, women with children, teenagers walking dogs... She is oblivious to them all as she leans forward and perches her head to one side. 

I hear the trumpet. He’s started to play!  

She smiles broadly and stands, eyes searching in the distance.  

Where is he? Why won’t all these people sit down so I can see him? 

Her smile fades, her forehead wrinkles, and she clenches her hands. 

That’s not him. Is it? And where is he, if that’s not him? Where is Tom?

She shouts, “Tom!” 

A group of joggers are startled and then laugh as they run by her.

“Mother!” A frantic woman in a light blue overcoat rushes to Alice and places her arms around her. “Oh thank God! I couldn’t find you, I was so worried.” Tears stream down her face. “You can’t leave the house without me. I’ve told you, it’s dangerous to go out on your own.”

Alice looks at her daughter confused and faintly says, “Deborah? When did you get into town? I was trying to watch Tom play. But I can’t see him. Do you see him?” She looks past Deborah in the distance.  

Deborah muffles a sob and gently brushes the hair out of Alice’s eyes. “Oh, Mother. Not again with this. Tom is--Tom had to go away, remember? Do you remember I told you he had to go away?” 

Alice looks at her daughter with a blank expression and shakes her head. “I don’t understand what you’re doing here, Deborah.”

“Let’s go home, OK?  I will make you some hot tea and we will listen to a record of his. What do you say?”

“But I need to see him. Tell them to get out of my way!!” Alice screams. People are watching them both as they walk by with concerned expressions.

Deborah shushes her mother and addresses the small crowd of onlookers calmly, "She's my mother, it's OK. She's-- ill.  Please give us space." The look on her face warns them to be on their way and they retreat.

"OK Mother, sit on this bench, have some warm water,” she whispers and hands Alice a thermos. She searches for the cell phone in her pocket and surveys her trembling mother.

When did she become the child? When did I become the mother?

She dials a number and then speaks into her phone, “Hey. I found her. She was at the park. Yeah, she's OK, just confused and agitated," Deborah's voice cracks and she cries softly, "can you call Jack, please?  She’s asking for Tom. I know, I know I said I wouldn’t. But just call Jack, will you? Thank you. Bye.”

She places the phone back into her coat pocket, exhales slowly and wraps a blanket on Alice’s shoulders. “Let’s walk home now.  I’ll draw you hot bath and play some of his music while you drink your tea. OK?”

“Alright. But then I must send a telegram to him in Glasgow. It's very important.”

“Sure, I'll help you. Let’s go home and I'll help you.”

1 comment:

  1. What a moving story, Tanya. It makes me think about friends of mine who have family members in this state. Amazing what the mind clings to when its clock stands still, as you said. This is another beautiful piece of writing dear. xo