Somewhere above me a balloon, on a piece of string, floats untethered. It is not always visible; maybe because it is sky-blue. It floats without purpose. I can only see it with my eyes closed. Behind the shade the balloon has become my guide.
It is a comfort to hear her voice; my pretext for lying in self-imposed darkness.
Sometimes there is noise. This morning it is quieter than usual. But if I open my eyes the sound of absence will become louder. So I have chosen to wait.
I’ve been awake for hours listening to the night. It has moved gradually; I followed the changing light from the cover of my shade.
Lying in a bed feels odd. It is a novelty; one that I’m finding hard to accommodate. I cannot settle into this unfamiliar way of being. I wish Émilie hadn’t left so soon.
When she was here I had someone to talk to; I felt needed. I had a purpose. Her lively spirit emanated warmth and generosity. She was always there; waiting.
But some days her energy could be exhausting. There were times when it was a relief to collapse onto the sofa next to her bed in the kitchen. With my eyes closed I would follow her shallow breathing. It was comforting for both of us; sometimes.
As Émilie’s condition deteriorated the periods of comfort became relatively brief. I used to read; I got through so many books. When she was in the mood I shared the stories; Dickens was her favourite. I have yet to finish the one I was reading the day she died; ‘Great Expectations’; ironic really. Now I’m in danger of becoming my own Miss Havisham. If I were to look at the clock I expect it would say ‘twenty minutes to nine’; and if I could see myself in a mirror… Émilie would not approve. But then she didn’t look so great herself in the end. I am sorry; that is very unkind. Deep down Émilie was always beautiful.
My untidiness used to drive her mad. She would swear in French; I loved it when Émilie swore. I could never have become tidy with Émilie swearing so much. Her swearing was almost an incentive to leave things lying around. But as her illness took hold I changed. I’ve no idea if it pleased her; it didn’t really matter anymore.
At some point I will have to tackle the dust.