Stick

I fell. Well first I flew. High in the air and then landed hard on my right knee and then my left. I cried out from shock and pain. There was no one around. Should I limp home or continue? I wanted it to be OK, to be as normal so I went on and walked my three miles. And then? Then I was spent and wept behind my dark glasses in the supermarket.

And now? He bought me a stick. A wooden one from Craft. Four pounds. A bargain. I can walk without it but my right knee is still very swollen and stiff and it gives me confidence. I am back to doing my early walk and getting a little faster each morning. The stick seems to attract attention. Those early hour kids out cavorting notice me. Hi, they say, you a’right? I like it. I feel warmed by their care. A little thing, but normally I am overlooked. Perhaps I am different. I’m glad I persist in walking, the air these last few mornings has been beautiful. Keep moving, said the physio. She had been kind and reassuring but I hadn’t managed to warm to her. I wanted to. Truly. She chattered away trying to put me at┬ámy ease. I just felt awkward, clumsy, exposed and vulnerable. She is so cheery. Sometimes you just have to let the dis-ease be. I touched her arm at the end. It was all I could do. Was it enough?

A brutish group sitting on the Prom bench. Two lads play fighting and a couple drinking. My hackles twitch. The stick again. Hello, lovely, the older man said, lovely morning. And it is. Stunning moon, I say. It is full. My words are lost on them. It is enough to make contact. To be responsive. Then up by the Pier Pressure nightclub a couple are deep in conversation. They stand slightly apart. She is crying, holding her handbag up to her eyes. Her dress, a gaudy-patterned silk, is riding up her thighs. You’ve got to be strong, he is saying to her. You’ve got to be strong. She continues to cry. He stands back, his hands in his jeans pockets. You’ve got to be strong. No matter what comes between us, you’ve got to be strong.

He calls it our cwtch. We see him most days. He’s got a PhD., he says. Tried various jobs, had a shop, don’t know what he does now. He’s always cheery and brown, from walking as he does, up and down the Prom. Our cwtch. Other people comment on it too. The man with the lump on his neck in the supermarket. Saw you today, he says, like two lovebirds. Our place. Our little nook.

I heard a noise upstairs in the kitchen. A banging, a tapping. The fridge? I went up and it was a bird, a rook bashing his beak against one of the skylight windows. When he saw he flew off. Then two days later there were two of them. Why do they do it? he asks. Search me.