Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pigs and marriages

He had been grilling a pig on a campfire. This was a dream, of course. Even in the scouts he had never grilled a pig on the campfire. He could still smell it now. He lifted his hand but he did not lift his hand. He rolled onto his side but he did not roll onto his side. He swung his feet onto the ground but he was still a leaden body in the sweat of his bed. Not his bed. Hospital bed. He was confused. He called for his wife but his voice was lost to him. He opened his mouth and pictured his wife and there was a void where her name should be. He reached for his laptop but his arm refused to obey the impulse and his laptop wasn’t there anyway. He smelt burning pig. Ex-wife, he remembered with a kind of excited relief, All that shouting and crying and thumping of walls behind him now. Ex-wife. Bacon, definitely the smell of bacon, and a name came to him. Rose. He reached for the laptop again, where was the laptop? Where was his arm when he needed it.

Someone leaned over the bed and he thought it might have been his ex-wife and he flinched. It was a stranger. A nurse in an ill-fitting uniform. He opened his mouth and there was a sound from it that he didn’t recognise. He was speaking underwater. The echo of it was too loud in his head. He struggled with the aquatic mess of syllables.

“Ro-“ he said, “Rose.”

“Jacob. Good morning. How are you feeling?”

“Rose,” he said.

“You’re looking so much better this morning aren’t you?”

He wanted to say, am I? He wanted to say, you should see the other fellow.

“Your wife was in before.”

His wife. He smelled gardenia and wondered if this was a direct reaction to the words ‘your wife’ just as the smell of bacon seemed to fit so neatly with the idea of Rose. The nurse leant closer and he realised that it was the smell of her perfume. A wonderful womanly smell. He noticed the tight pull of her uniform across her breasts.

“She’ll be back in half an hour. She said to tell you when you were awake.

He wanted to ask her exactly where he was, exactly what had happened. A stroke. He had had a stroke. Someone had said this to him or he had guessed it. He remembered the feeling of faintness and the fall. He remembered the fall. He put his hand up to his face but his hand stubbornly refused to move at all. He had misplaced his hand. He tried to find it, His left hand travelled across his body, came to rest on a lump of flesh that felt colder than the rest of him. His hand. He touched the fingers and knew that this is what he was holding.

“Rose.” He said and the scent of bacon sizzled in his brain.

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