Wide and Deep by Socrates Adams
I am five and a half years old. I am holding my wife’s hand as she gives birth to our son. My wife is six years old. I am her toy boy. The nurse, who is eight years old, is saying things to my wife like, ‘Keep pushing. You are nearly there.’ I keep hold of my wife’s hand even though she is gripping me as hard as she can. My fingers are white as my son is born. The nurse places the tiny boy into my wife’s arms and she starts to breastfeed him, automatically. I am swelling with pride.
I feel a triangle of love. The triangle is connecting my wife, the baby, me. The triangle seems like a beam of green light, made of love.
My wife is crying as she breastfeeds the baby. The family I have is the greatest family in the history of families. I imagine my son’s life, stretching out in front of me, and I am immeasurably happy.
My son is two weeks old and it is time for him to go to school. My son’s first words were ‘feed me’. He said the words and then my wife/his mother started to immediately feed him. Whenever she feeds him she is so overcome with emotion that she cries. She doesn’t stop crying maybe for one or two hours after she feeds him. Then she feeds him again.
I drive to the school and I talk to my son as we drive along. I tell him about school being an important place. My son quietly sits and thinks about the big issues of life. When we get to the school the headteacher is waiting for my son and she takes him and moves him into the school. I worry about my son suffering from separation anxiety.
When I get home my wife is standing in the corner of the kitchen. She is facing the corner and crying. I go upstairs and work because I have taken my work home with me.
“. . . to show the whole world that I died of love” __________
My wife and I are at my son’s first birthday party. His friends are here. He is about to cut his cake and pop open the champagne and drink it with them and then go out on the town. I look at my wife who is looking at the cake. We are both proud of my son and each other. I think about the way I have changed since he was born. I think about the way my wife has changed. My wife is a tiny and thin creature.
My wife collapses onto the floor, silently. My son and his friends have a great time drinking the champagne and cutting the cake. I lie down on the floor next to my wife and whisper to her quietly as the boys trample on top of us. I look at her face and it is drawn and pale. I touch her face with my hand and keep whispering to her.
It is three months since the party. We are at the graveyard and we are burying my wife. I have found it difficult since she died. I rely on my son now. When I look at him I can often imagine her older face. I am six and three-quarters years old. My son is one and one-quarter years old. My wife would be seven and one-quarter years old. My son’s girlfriend comes up to me after the funeral and says to me that my wife had a good innings. My son’s girlfriend is one and two-thirds years old.
I can rely on my son. His girlfriend and he leave me at the church. I sit on the bench in the graveyard and I squeeze my hand and make it white and remember about my wife giving birth to my son.
I live in an old people’s home. I am totally mad because of my dementia. I don’t understand human emotions/responsibilities/family structures anymore. I sit in a rocking chair on the lawn. I watch a ten-year-old shuffle along the lawn and fall down dead. I start singing the song that I sing every day:
dig me my grave both wide and deep
put marble slabs at my head and feet
upon my breast put a turtle white dove
to show the whole world that I died of love
Socrates Adams is a writer who lives in Manchester, England. He blogs at Chicken and Pies.
© 2011, Metazen.