I sit, along with Rufus, and we wait. Every day we wait. Yet each day’s waiting has a texture of its own.
Sunday’s is the hardest wait. On Sundays we sit together in the wingback chair, our limbs entangled like tights in the washing machine, to wait for death.
On Mondays, our triumph over the weekend perks us up somewhat. After I empty the remains of our microwaved meal into the pedal bin, we retire to the chair beside the window, to await the young ladies from Queen Elizabeth High School. Visiting the elderly and housebound; we never had that when I was a lass. The teachers call it Community Service but, to the students, it’s their opportunity to fleece me at poker. They cheat, those girls from Queen Elizabeth’s in their smart blazers and hitched-up skirts. They look at my cards, and how could they not, when my hands, as supple as boxing gloves, refuse to marshal the cards into a fan? By the time they go back to school, I’m five quid and a packet of Penguins poorer.
Tuesdays we wait for the bath lady. Fridays too. It used to be three days a week but I lost one bath to The Cuts. When the supervisor came to tell me, there were tears in her eyes. I shook my head and looked serious, but it was a lot of fuss about nothing. Sunday night in the tub was good enough when we were kids, and that was with all day and every day running around the backstreets, playing hopscotch and piggy-in-the-middle. Just taking my zimmer from the toilet to the kitchen to the bedroom to the wingback chair beside the window can’t produce much of a sweat, can it? A splash of water on my face of a morning and a wipe down there with a damp flannel ought to suffice at my age. It’s not as if there’s any pleasure in it, anyway, with that hoist like a crane on a bloody building site, and the bath lady doing her best to look anywhere but at my gnarled body. But it’s not for me to say, is it? And the bath lady lends focus to Tuesday’s wait.
Today, however, is Wednesday: the best day of the week.
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