“I am outside the door…please let me in.” He struggled to keep his eyes firmly locked on the brass handle of the bedroom door before him, his hand gliding along the smooth wood, trying to touch the interior of the room just out of reach.
Marianne had isolated herself within, letting the present take her and mould her into something he never remembered her being. She was never the woman to lie down and submit to something forcing her life in a direction she could never enjoy. Her pursuit was for a life of passion, colour, dreams and hope. The very moment she was told she had suffered a stroke, only a day before, she withdrew into herself, only choosing to display a cracked, grey shell. I knew there was still all the wonder encased underneath but she could only see her bleak demise when she turned towards the window at the start of a bright morning; or as she peered down at the food I left for her, succumbing to her fate.
The horror had left permanent brain damage we were assured would only continue to decline. It would destroy her, he knew full well. Marianne refused to leave her room and continue her busy pursuits around the house, or pause for a moment to play her beloved piano which now sat without a master to command its keys.
“Why not come out and play your music dear. I have not heard a sweet melody in this house for a day and already it feels cavernous and empty. You don’t want that, do you? My sweet, I promised I would care for you and I will continue to until you say enough. But I also cannot live with this feeling of discord between us. Our relationship is overrun and overtaken by this sickness and we both can’t feel at home with each other anymore. I just thought I should let you know that despite all this and my care, by sitting in that room and just waiting for things to twist and change, how can we belong to each other anymore?”
I turned around and walked through the house onto the back porch, my throat thick and my heart buried somewhere deep down. I sat on the swing and waited for a sound; a soft release as her door opened, the tap running in the kitchen and her gentle footsteps outside.
I waited until the sun became a fiery disk of light, suspended from the ground. It was struggling to remain fixed in the sky, where it wanted to be and where it felt of use to the world, but the moon was edging higher into the sky, almost commanding the sun to rest. Save its light for another beautiful day. My eyes were heavy and the evening breeze began to pick up. The wind-chimes were rustled into a swaying movement, their sweet tune carried across the house. The pure air sweeping the countryside lulled my senses, made me dream so long that I hardly understood the chimes ringing from the clock inside or the obvious shuffle of slippers inside…
An achingly soft voice came from behind. I twisted the swing around to see Marianne, in her crimson dressing gown and slippers, huddled in the door frame. She had a sad look in her eyes, a sombreness cast over her pale white skin.
“I’m sorry. You are there for me. You help me. And I do not. What…do….we do?”
Calmly walking to where she stood, I looped my arms around her and told her not to cry. An impossible task in itself but one I knew we could manage. Inside, I sat her down in an armchair, wrapped a blanket over her legs and placed a mug of her favourite tea beside her. She would not touch it without my help. It restored some life to her, her body did not seem to stoop as low or appear so brittle. Her head held high, she looked around the house as if for the first time.
As soon as her eyes lighted upon the piano in the corner, she made a little high-pitched noise. Sitting beside her on the piano stool after carrying her over, her fingers fell on the keys. Her light, graceful movements over the piano weaved a golden thread of music throughout the house. She for once felt at peace, with her past and her future.
And I felt at home again. That this moment; this place; this intimacy was the true escape we needed….together.