day four: lost
Her memory is not what it used to be. Before, it had been like dipping a toe into a pool of water – at will. She could submerge herself only as far as she wished and withdraw herself whenever she wanted, as quickly as she desired. She had been good at that – remembering exactly what she wanted: her grudges, her loyalties, those who had wronged her, those who had stayed and those who had walked away. The good times – those she could meditate on, hold on tightly to, in order to keep them fresh. But those had slipped away over time, too.
Now, memories came to her like a tide coming in. Slowly at first – the suggestion of a memory coming towards her, a face she recognised, a familiar feeling – then all at once, the waves of time rushing towards her, sinking her into the sand, rooting her where she stood, helpless, at the surf. There is no controlling it – time. There is only tolerating it, and persisting through it.
If it weren’t for her mind being in the shape it was, she’d have passed for a much younger woman. Slender. Supple skin. She’d never smoked. Had never had children. Had always looked after herself – her body. There had always been a lot of drinking but now she felt that had kept her healthy – had kept her sterilised.
As she sat at her kitchen table – a bistro (it was all she needed, no one visited her now) – she wondered where that had got her: the waiting. Waiting for the right man. Waiting for her big chance. Waiting for a better job to come along. Waiting for whatever it was she always felt was coming to her. Whatever it was she felt she was owed.
Had the right man come along? It was hard to know, sometimes. Mark was dead now and when she remembered him, she still did her best to be selective. But the tide – it carried other memories with it. Sometimes, they threatened to drown her.
Her big chance – to be somebody? A tennis champion. A successful real estate agent (someone with her own money). A mother of perfect children. She had tried to travel but being away from the place where people knew her was too challenging.
A better job never came along. She got a three-year degree in a program she didn’t like. Tried community college but didn’t like the people in her program. Got a job in real estate through her father’s connections. Never got her license so remained in the finance department until she finally got married in her early 40s. No one had offered her a promotion.
There were never children. She’d married too late. She’d tried, for a time. It just never happened.
She’d followed a man to Europe for several months but could not compete with the more worldly views of the men and women they met along the way. She missed her country club. She knew that. Could talk about its politics endlessly. She missed the circle of friends who flocked to her, surrounded her.