Where the Flowers Are Few
I'm running. My eyes sting. Cackling, malicious flames devour. I search the spectators for my husband, I never find him. I'm always searching for him, even though I know he won't be there.
The only thing left of that life stood green and defiant despite the charred edges. I walk into my garden, feel the coolness of the soil and wonder if it has the right to be so, if my feet should guiltlessly enjoy the soothing chill.
They never said what started it. He was declared dead, but they couldn’t confirm it. Shrouded in my grief, I stayed. The house was rebuilt. My life never found that satisfaction.
No restraints this morning. My wrists are bruised. It reminds me of my second husband. I sit and turn to the barred window, stare into vicious sunlight. Nothing wants me anymore. The garden is gone. The house is not mine. All the realizations of morning assault me once again. The doctor won't like me sitting here like this. He won't be happy with the dream either. He believes I need to let go. It's been forty years to the day since he died. It's been two years to the day I moved in here and started dying. I think the doctor has no right to decide what I do with my memories. He talks about choices. He's never had to choose between love and pain, self and happiness, violence and grief. He cannot understand these are not obvious choices, and I cannot explain it to him.
Days have no distinctness here. The sky may be blue, but life is a constant hue, dull and menacing. There are no people left to visit me. Perhaps not having children was the wrong choice in light of my situation, but then, I wasn't thinking about old age when I decided that. I've survived this far, I remind myself.
It doesn't work.
It used to. I once could rouse my spirits to boldness and charge into dark places, but now I have no motivation to. I wonder how I can have such lucid days and forget so many others. Maybe they're right, maybe I want to be lost.
I woke up today with the restraints on again. I don't remember yesterday. I'm tired. I want to walk. Inertia pushes me back into my dreams. I find the garden by the rebuilt house. I like this dream. I am digging in the soil with bare hands. The invisible wall around the garden fends off intruders. They are both stranded there. My first husband feverishly pounding against the wall. My second husband stands there with clenched fists. Neither of them can reach me with their pain. I am glad of it and ignore them. I talk to my seedlings and bees and birds. Making things grow is the only thing that makes sense. I've always wanted to nurture things into life.
They both wanted kids. I did with my first husband. We produced none because we decided to wait. Things interfered too quickly. One year we were making ends meet, and the next we started trying. In the end, that last year he was gone. Without a child already seeded in me, there would be none for us.
As for the second, he cajoled, begged, demanded, even tried to force the issue. What he failed to realize was that no matter what he could do to me, he could not make it happen without my permission. In the end though, I won out. I was more resourceful than he expected. So there never was to be a seed within me. I stuck to the seeds I planted myself.
I'm sitting at a table with a plate of repulsive food before me. How can they serve this slop? I push it away. I'm not hungry. The nurse approaches.
“You need to eat. You're losing too much weight.”
I know she means well and she's right, but this stuff won't do any good.
“I can't eat this.”
“Why? There must be something you like. Did you look at everything?”
“Yes I did. Of course I did. I've told you people time and again that this isn't food. It's some kind of metamorphosed chemical compound made to look like food that came out of a box. It's not food, I want food.”
“This is all we have. You need to eat something.”
I know where this will go. I can feel the agitation starting in me. That little pit stirring, waiting to expand into stubborn fury. She backs off a little. I relax my shoulders. I don't want to end up in restraints, or worse, forgetting today. I hate forgetting. It hurts. That's the intrinsic problem with life. It hurts to remember and it hurts to forget. Purgatory.