Chapter 6 Returning to an old friend

Written by: Suraya Dewing

Angelica thought that there was no nightmare to compare. She was locked in a house with a man she did not care for listening to his constant moaning and finding fault with everything she did.

He was in hospital for four weeks and while the doctors told her there was a good chance Stephen would fully recover they said it would take time.

With a sudden burst of guilt she told him he could stay at her place when he was discharged. She almost said, ‘until you’ve recovered’. But something stopped her. She did not want to give voice to her fear that she would be stuck with him forever. Now that fear was realised.

The thought caused her to feel so despondent she wondered if the sun would ever shine again.

“It’s the least you could offer,” he had told her sulkily.

When she brought him to her place he was in a wheelchair and he made a lot of noise about how harsh life was for him now. She bit back the words that agreed.

She set him up in the lounge room and turned television on. A re-run of Coronation Street came on.

“Do you watch that dreadful rubbish?” he grumbled.

“No,” she said quickly. “I was watching something else on the channel before I came to get you.”

He nodded grumpily. “Well, I would hope not. While I’m in this room you won’t catch us watching that nonsense.” He grabbed the remote and flicked to Survivor, a reality programme of very fit people surviving rough conditions in the middle of the wildest bush on an island somewhere. Angelica could think of nothing worse. Men beating drums like Neanderthals and women wearing minimal bikinis, hair in dreadlocks, and trying to out-wit, loud aggressive men. It made her cringe.

Sighing she rose to her feet. “I’m making a drink,” she said with disgust.

“Make me one too,” he called jauntily after her. She slammed the door and shook a fist at him.

If this was the future, it was indeed very miserable and bleak.

***

One morning, after she had made Stephen his coffee and toast with marmalade, the home-help, Miranda, arrived and noting the exhausted black rings under Angelica’s beleaguered blue eyes, she shooed her out of the house.

Stephen began to protest and the home help immediately silenced him by telling him he would have to put up with her for the next few hours.

With a relieved sigh Angelica escaped to the place she had come to regard as her place of solace. She sat on the raised root of her favourite tree, leaned back and closed her eyes. The curving root seemed to embrace her and for the first time since the accident she felt as though she could relax. Her stiff muscles loosened and all the pent-up pain came unplugged.

A soft hand was laid on her heaving shoulder and brought the tears to a stop. The old man washed hazily through a wet cloudy veil.