Friday, 15 October 2010

#FridayFlash Night and Day

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tock, tick...

Sylvia wakes with a start from a sleep she hadn't meant to take. Her knees are stiff and her back is sore.  The Roman numerals on the clock are at four thirty already. The sun has already reached the bottom of the hill, painting her sitting room wall red and orange. Funny how she used to hate that clock: the over-large gold leaves and the distorted cherubs seemed to sum up everything she disliked about her mother-in-law, Alison. How many afternoons had she and Paul sat in this very room, keeping Alison company, to that relentless tick, tock? Alison, whose days had ceased to please her, so she must destroy theirs, forcing them to stay and listen to her endless complaints -sciatica, rheumatism, loneliness. It was always such a relief  when Paul's sister took over, and they were released to the night air, the moon, the stars, the dancing.

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tock, tick...

She's old, she needs me, Paul would say, as he whirled her across the dance floor like Fred Astaire. Though Sylvia knew it was true, she didn't want him thinking that way too long. She'd pull him with her into the music, and soon, he was singing a different tune, Night and day, you are the one...She smiles at the memory. Time was, when her feet could glide to that tune and she could dance through to pink dawns and still feel fresh and ready for more. Such days they were, when her hair was black, and she could follow her desires so easily: when an hour with Paul seemed to last a thousand years. Now Alison is dead, Paul too, the children left home, and those days may as well have been a thousand years ago.

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock...

The rim of the sun is hanging on the horizon, sending shafts of red across the sky, making  the moon blush. That clock has ticked its way through so many of her suns and moons in this house that  she's come to love it for its ugliness. She even loved Alison a little in the end, as the years softened that sharp tongue and  the arrival of grandchildren brought some comfort. Now Sylvia's own days are an uphill struggle, and walks are something to dread, she can understand the old woman somewhat better too. Still, it was more pleasant living here in the later years, once the kids were grown, when it was just her and Paul, and Sinatra sang as they danced...Only you beneath the moon or sun. Those were the days when her hair was still dark, and he still thought her beautiful. Vanity of vanities - he wouldn't think her lovely now.

Tick, tock, tick,tock, tick, tock...

Outside the shadows are falling. Night rushes across the garden, masking the signs of Spring - the almond tree beginning to blossom, the sparrows laying nests. She ought to get up and make herself a cup of tea, maybe ring Gill, who worries too much. Only last year she would have leapt up the minute she awoke, but, her legs still feel shaky after her sleep, and she needs to catch her breath. There's no hurry after all. She might as well sit here for a while longer. She closes her eyes. Her breath shallows. And a voice sings to her across the years...Its no matter darling where you are, I think of you... She smiles, stretching out a hand for one last dance.


c Virginia Moffatt  2010

13 comments:

Marisa Birns said...

Lovely story of remembering life, with its ups and downs, and its music.

In the last paragraph, I took it to mean that the clock ticked-tocked the slowing of her breaths, and she finally went to dance with Paul.

Well done.

Disarmingman said...

Fab, Fab, Fab

Amalia T. said...

You have great imagery in this piece-- I especially liked the line about the shafts of light making the moon blush. Beautiful image!

John Wiswell said...

This is a sweet short, Virginia. Especially liked her going for that last dance.

Sulci Collective said...

lovely, poignant melancholic piece about time ebbing away and our lives with it, for all that we dance & try and keep in motion.

Marc Nash

Sam said...

Beautiful, simply beautiful. I'm writing this with a tear in my eye. It's extremely well written and poignant. Bravo!

Steve Green said...

Wonderfully crafted tale.

We feel so immortal when we are young, and before we know it we have become that old person ourselves.

Virginia Moffatt said...

Thanks folks, this has been cooking for a couple of week, so glad it's achieved the effect I wanted!

placebythefire said...

Lovely nostalgic piece. Well done.

mazzz in Leeds said...

Very sweet piece - sad but not-sad too. I'm glad she got a last dance!

A. S. Boudreau said...

Very beautiful. The clock really adds to this story and the imagery of the life ticking away.

Wonderful.

Rebecca Emin said...

Aww this is beautiful. Great combination of the memories and the ending... lovely.

Laurita said...

Beautiful story with some lovely imagery. The ticking of the clock was a very nice touch.