One Reply to “8.29.2014 Journal Prompt”

  1. He wasn’t well. I mean he really wasn’t well. It was time, he said. And though it was sooner than we planned, we got tickets for the bus and we made our way back. I’d phoned ahead and booked the same room as before and I’d said I wanted flowers on the table and a bottle of wine in a bucket of ice, and I told them what year and what grape, and I said I’d pay extra just so it was right.

    How long? the girl on the other end of line had asked.

    Truth was, we didn’t know. It could be we were there for a day and no longer, maybe a week or two weeks. I shrugged, but the girl on the phone wouldn’t have seen that. Her name was Helen. I told her we’d be there for a while, but I couldn’t say exactly. She said that was fine. She said they were really quiet at this time of year and so it was fine.

    He slept on the bus. I could feel the heat of him through his clothes and mine. I could hear the rattle in his chest and I counted the seconds between breaths. Like that, leaning against me, he was smaller than he was. Small as a boy. Shrunk to half of what he was but still everything in my world.

    It’s time, the doctors had said and they’d said I should make him comfortable, but he’d wanted to go back to where it all started and he insisted we take the bus even though it added hours onto the journey. He liked to sleep on buses. He liked the rocking motion of the bus and the smell of other people and the sound of their lowered voices.

    Wake me when you can taste the sea in the air, he said. Just wake me.

    We were going back to the coast. Some shit about how he missed the cries of gulls and the sound of the sea as a breathy effervescent ever-present whisper and the movement of the air carrying voices up and up and into nowhere. He missed that, he said, and the sound of children laughing and the jangle of the slot machines at the arcade and the lights of the fairground just as the sun was going down and music playing too loud to speak. Of course, it’d be quieter at this time. Out of season, the girl on the phone had said. The arcade would be closed for the winter, the fair, too, and the children all gone.

    It was where we’d first met. I was out of my head and then it was him carrying me. He’d booked a room in a motel, the one we were now going back to. And he’d undressed me and put me to bed to sleep it off. He didn’t get in the bed with me; he slept in the chair, or he didn’t sleep for he was counting the seconds between my breaths then, just in case I was sick.

    Three days and nights we stayed in that room overlooking the sea and it was like we were building something, putting pieces together, bits of his life and bits of mine, testing to see that they fitted. He bought me flowers and we drank pinot grigio from the bottle. That was ten years back and we’d have been returning for some sort of anniversary anyway. Then he got sick, really sick, and going back was now something different and something more urgent.

    He said he wanted it to end where it all began. He wanted it to be neat as a story in a book. I didn’t tell him that I hated book stories and the false shape they gave to things and how everything ended when you closed the covers of the book. I didn’t say it wasn’t ever like that; I didn’t say, what about me, it doesn’t end for me. It goes on afterwards. I didn’t say any of that, because he was not well, and he never would be well again, and going back to the start was an ending for him, and I wanted it to end as well as ever it could.

    I woke him when the air smelled of salt and cold and fish. He smiled, but could not lift his head.

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