Stroke

Acts of Love (2) detail 1

Granny Heather from The Archers has had a fatal stroke. My grandfather had a stroke when I was eight or maybe nine. It left him paralysed in both legs and one arm. I remember everyone talking about a stroke. I couldn’t understand why a stroke, a caress could harm him. He had always been a reserved, taciturn man, now he couldn’t help himself from breaking wind. We’d visit him in hospital and I’d see the shame flicker across his eyes. My father would keep talking, trying to smother the sound. My sister would fidget with suppressed giggles. I just wanted to leave, to save him further humiliation. He lived for another fifteen years.

He comes into my studio. That dreadful woman was in there again, he says. You know that nice couple we spoke to the other day at the till in Morrison’s. No. Yes, you do, she was sweet, laughed a lot. No. Never mind. Anyway, he says, they were sitting in our usual seat when she accosted them. She’d asked if she could have one of the chairs and they’d answered her with a question. Big mistake, I thought, he said. She had them captive for twenty minutes, banging on. Shouting. In the end he had to put on his coat and get up to leave. Dreadful. She’s dreadful.

I dreamt I was to take a plane ride. The runway was grass, an open space in full sun. We all stood in a line, waiting, eyes trained to the sky. It is strange to wake to darkness from a dream in the sun.

I was walking up the steps from the Quad. A young man was helping a girl up the steps ahead of me. You go ahead, he said turning to me, we may be some time. The girl was wearing flip flops with both her big toes encased in big swathes of bandage. Oh, that looks sore, I said. Oh, she said, I’m OK the anesthetic is still working.

They allowed her to bring him his washing to the prison. She sewed different coloured threads into his socks. A code to tell him how the children were.