The Object of Pursuit of an Inner-Saboteur

15/03/2010

“Somewhere in Time” (based on “Hearing a Piano”)

Filed under: fiction,shorty story — Monika Thornton @ 11:44
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Roman walked into the main lounge and without hesitation approached Grace. She was sitting near the window in her tatty recliner chair staring at the outside world. Her bony, wrinkled fingers were busy folding and unfolding worn flowery handkerchief. Roman noticed that her hair was neatly arranged in a bun and that she was smartly dressed in a paisley pattern green dress. On the table next to her chair there were two china mugs and a tray with shortbread biscuits.

            ‘Gracie, your tea’s getting cold.’ He lifted one of the mugs and gently placed it in her trembling hand. She nervously glanced at the empty chair opposite her and reluctantly took a couple of tiny sips. Then her shaking hand placed the mug gently back on the coffee table.

            Roman hated to see her like that, fading away like the stars in the morning. She reminded him of a porcelain doll: pale, delicate and ever so fragile. Only one year ago she was full of life and her smile regularly spread sunbeams on her cheeks.

            The first blow came so suddenly. Theo passed away only three months after they had both come to live in the Sunnydale Residential Home. One sunny morning, Grace woke up with a song on her lips, only to have her whole world crash down the next minute. Theo’s tired heart stopped beating and her own refused to follow. It was broken into million tiny pieces but still fully functional despite its unwilling owner.

            The next months saw Grace slowly removing herself from the world around her. Roman remembered too well watching her struggle to walk through the narrow corridors, every day that little bit slower and with more difficulty, shuffling aimlessly from door to door. The worst were the days when she’d become confused and delusional. Sometimes she screamed her husband’s name at night, other times she spoke to him with her tender loving voice. The diagnosis was simple yet cruel: Dementia with Lewy Bodies.

            Roman sat down in an armchair opposite Grace. The strong smell of urine was only just bearable. As her key-worker he was able to spend a lot of time in her company. He supported her independence for as long as her body and mind were willing to cooperate. She had a passion for classical music, just like her husband, so Roman arranged a loan of cd’s from the local library. Grace felt a connection with him and was always pleased to see her favourite nurse. Roman was the only one who listened to her stories about Theo’s daily visits.

            ‘What’s it going to be tonight, Gracie? One of Chopin’s Waltzes you like so much?’

            ‘Well, I’m hoping for Rachmaninoff’s “Somewhere in Time”, but he likes to surprise me,’ she said. ‘I wonder why he’s so late today?’

She scrunched the handkerchief in her fidgety hands. Her legs were trembling so Roman took the blanket that was draped over the back of his armchair and placed it on Grace’s lap. Her lavender perfume reminded him of his grandmother. 

                                                                      ***                                                       

Grace refused to go to bed that night. When Roman had arrived on his night duty, he was told that she insisted on waiting for her husband to play her bedtime tune. The fireplace had been left on and Grace was allowed to stay in her usual spot. Roman ignored the ringing telephone and concerned went in to see her. The loud steps made her look in his direction.

            ‘They keep telling me I’m crazy. They want to keep us apart, just like he said they would. I won’t let them, I won’t!’

            ‘It’s okay, Gracie. Please, don’t get upset. Theo wouldn’t want to see you sad.’ Roman kneeled down in front of her. Grace’s hair was messy, her pyjama top buttoned up wrong, her cheeks wet and red.

            ‘They broke my necklace, look.’ Her opened palm revealed that the string of pearls had its fastener missing.

            ‘Oh Gracie, I’m sure we can fix that.’ Roman looked up and saw her face lightening up with the most enchanting smile.

            ‘No need, my dear. Theo is finally here. He can take care of my pearls now.’

            Roman felt the shivers down his back. He wasn’t quite sure whether it was the sudden cold breeze that caused them or the sound of one of the most beautiful piano pieces – Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini”-that suddenly filled the lounge.

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14/03/2010

“Hearing a Piano”

The summer was well and truly over. Most of the residents of the Sunnyside Residential Home gathered in the main lounge to get their share of the heat coming from the fireplace. There was a sense of nostalgia in the air and everyone appeared to have succumbed to it.

            Grace was sitting near the window in her brown recliner chair. She was staring at the colourful falling leaves, the children splashing in the rain puddles and the people on the other side of the road, who shared the same resigned expression, waiting for the crowded buses to take them home.  If you could see Grace’s face now you would notice that her mind was far away. Only her frail body was still here, hiding under the lapghan blanket. She seemed completely unaware of the church bells ringing for the Angelus prayer.

            Had she been able to speak she would tell you that he was now playing her favourite piano piece: Chopin’s “Grande Valse Brilliante”. She could see him sitting on a wooden stool wearing one of his elegant cardigans and his suede house slippers. He was utterly lost in music.

Alzheimer’s has affected her ability to speak and walk. She was no longer able to dress herself and her delicate silk dresses hang purposelessly in her wardrobe, as useless as the numerous items of jewellery and colourful head scarves. Losing Theo has affected her heart and soul, her ability to live the rest of her life. She cried herself to sleep every night, shivering from cold and loneliness in her unfamiliar and bare room. During the day she managed to escape to a place where lilac’s sweet aroma carried a promise of summer and joy, and where her beloved husband still played her favourite Chopin Waltzes.

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