Facing the future in style
There is a dead fly in my sink, it has been there for two days now, it’s tiny glassy wings stuck to the stainless steel, legs up, comically, like it is pretending, waiting for a friend to zzzzzzzzzzzz past so it can say boo. My daughter is in her bedroom deciding where her tattoo is going to be placed next Friday. I am invited, periodically, to view pieces of skin with photocopies of cat’s heads in various positions and moved degree by degree. My input is neither wanted nor needed, the cat head will settle in the perfect spot in black and white splendour, announcing to the word that its canvas is, young, firm and adventurous. I pull the top of my yoga pants out slightly and look at my own piece of ink. Was I ever that young, firm and free?
My husband is asleep, with an open book on his chest, flat out on the sofa. I am tempted to rearrange his limbs to make him look like the fly but decide it would not work, he only has four limbs and I am sure the fly has more. He is tired as he has worked hard for his wife and children, and is probably dreaming of the freedom retirement offers, it is close to him now. I have not mentioned the impending tattoo, his dream would be different then.
My dog is in the garden woofing monotonously at a big fat wood pigeon who is swallowing the last of the guava fruit. The beautiful bird looks down at the dog and laughs at his ridiculous noise. He cannot get me she thinks and this fruit is delicious. The dog looks up and thinks one day, beautiful bird you will fall and I will eat you. Until then I will tell the world that you are here eating my fruit.
My son is on a plane bound for an African adventure, but I cannot think about that yet, he is young and I am worried. He will come back a better person for the trip, and I know that he is in good hands, but I am his mother, and worrying is not something that you can rationalise. Perhaps my boy will begin his journey to manhood on this trip. I wait to see.
I look around and the housework needs doing, the rain has stopped, I could put some washing out, or start the dinner, but then again my daughter is going out with her boyfriend and my son, well he is eating from a tray right about now, so maybe just a toasted sandwich and a book. What is the point of the housework? It can wait, it will be here tomorrow, with nobody to drop crumbs or washing, or to leave dirty plates and glasses around, it will look the same. Is this how things will be now, my children growing, making their own lives, will I be redundant? Should I have spent less time cleaning and more time concentrating on the life before me? I do not know, I did, do, what I thought, think, is right.
I look at the fly, I have left it there as a test to see if any other member of the family care that it is there. It appears nobody does, so maybe cleaning has been a waste of time. My husband wakes up because he thinks he has heard a branch rubbing on the roof, he jumps up and fetches the step ladder. I can see a third of his body through the window and can now hear him sawing.
The cat comes in, and tells me she wants food, that the meal left in the bowl is no longer acceptable as taste is important to her, and it is now very, very urgent that I feed her.
My husband comes in triumphant, having pulled the offending thorny branch past me, insisting that I look at how big the thorns were. The dog also inspected the branch and agreed with the man that the thorns were indeed very large and that the work was good by wagging his wet tail and streaking mud across the windows. My husband asks if I want a coffee, I nod yes and get up to feed the cat.
My life is changing, I must move through this gracefully, acknowledge that my status as the font of all knowledge has shifted to the keeper of what was once. I must open myself up to new experiences and embrace change with gratitude. I must learn from my children and let them guide me. I must fill my spaces with brain nutrition, as yesterday I could not remember a name. It is chilly, I wonder if I should put a cardigan on, Oh dear God.
I want to shout stop, no, everything is just fine now, time, you can stay for a while, rest, do not move forward, I know she will not listen, but I ask. My husband uses the sink with the fly to fill the kettle, I wonder if he can see the dead thing. ‘Hey’, he turns to me, no need to cook tonight, I’ll get a takeaway, we can build a fire, and stay in all cosy’. I am seduced by this, should I want to be skydiving, no, I like fires, I like cosy, I like not cooking, maybe this will be ok if my body agrees not to be too silly in the coming years this could actually be the best of it, right now. I point out the fly and we laugh together, yes this could be the best of it.