Henry Bush
I Am Cold

It's not like I did anything wrong. That much is obvious even to me. But now I'm here, cold & alone. If only they could understand. It started a few weeks ago, but I'd been planning it for months.

She was going to die. Everyone knew that. She'd been in hospital for months, and was clearly not going to last much longer. After all, she wouldn't want to stay in there forever, would she? No one else seemed to see it my way. But that didn't bother me, after all, it was up to them. Me, I was going to enjoy it. So one day, I went into the hospital. To visit her. Or at least that's what I told them. Walking through the near deserted corridors at 8 o'clock in the morning I felt almost as isolated as I do sitting here, all alone. All that green and white; it reminded me of the hospitals in TV shows; I kept expecting someone to come bursting through the doors at the end of the corridor wheeling a stretcher and shouting about 20ml of this and that, and to knock me flat. I've never been so nervous in my life. Passing the odd nurse made my flesh creep all the way up and down my spine. Like they knew what I was doing. I kept telling myself: how would they know? What could possibly have happened? Why would the hospital open for visiting hours at 8am if the only people who went in were people like me? Just relax. There's no reason that they should suspect anything. Keep walking. But quit talking to yourself.

When I got to her ward, the nurses were all looking very serious. If it hadn't been for the fact that I knew they would suspect if I did, I would have turned and run right then. I didn't want to carry on. But I knew I had to do it now. I couldn't go back. For her sake, if nothing else. And for mine.

I sit down at her bedside. She's just been woken up by whoever found out I was here, it seems. We talk for a little while about what's been going on. Who's died in her ward recently. That's about all that happens, you know. At least what I'm going to do with her won't be as morbid. She'll have something to talk about for the rest of her life. Oh. Anyway, I explain to her what I intend to do with the day. Obviously I don't tell her my bit. That might put her off. But then, she is going to die anyway. She agrees: a bit of an adventure she thinks. Or at least that's how I make it sound. She gets out of bed, and slides into her dressing gown. This is something she always does when people come to visit, so I'm not that worried yet. She never likes to stay in her bed like the invalid that she is when she can walk round. So we walk down the same corridor that I've just walked down, passing the same nurses that I passed before. I only hope they still don't suspect. No, I say to myself, why should they? They're just doing their job. Don't hold it against them.

Suddenly I push her through an emergency exit. It surprises me almost as much as her, but I've been so busy thinking that I nearly missed our "escape route". The door bursts open melodramatically, but thankfully there are no alarms attached to it. Through an alley filled with nothingness: high sides, drain pipes, very imposing. Luckily I have planned all this. We rush round the corner into the dazzling sunshine only to find ourselves somewhere else. I mean, not where I intended. I start to panic, but she soothes me with her voice: so placid. Then she leaves me standing there. I notice and go after her to catch her and ask where she's going, but we turn the corner and there it is: the car. My excessively beautiful car. Never before have I been so glad to see it. I open the door and let her in the back to change. I get in the driver's seat and start the engine purring. She says something about the car not sounding healthy, but all I can see in the mirror is her changing. Just her. I savour the moment. Snapping out of it, I pull out of the parking space with a huge screech. So much for subtlety.

A few seconds later we're out of the hospital car park. That's the difficult bit done. The rest will be plain sailing, or at least it should have been. We drive for hours, stopping briefly for lunch in a seedy roadside café. While we're there, everyone seems to be staring at us. She tells me to stop being so paranoid over our plates of burger and chips. Dead romantic. But don't worry, it gets better. Finally we arrive in London: you see, I‘ve known for years that she desperately wants to see the Natural History Museum. So we go, and we wander round together, looking at all the exhibits. But I can't keep my mind on anything but her. Finally, here we are. Together, alone. Whenever we've been together before, there's been hundreds of other people there, and she never really paid much attention to me. But now there's only me. It's so wonderful. I just keep looking at her, completely forgetting where we are. Of course, she's busy looking at "excessively cute seal pups!". She uses that word loads. I think I've picked it up from her a bit. Trying not to stare at her for a second, I look over at the seals she mentioned. They all look longingly at me. Maybe they want me to free them too, I say jokingly. She looks at me quizzically for a moment, and I realise I just nearly gave everything away. She says nothing, and walks away into the next room. I suddenly realise I'm holding my breath, and quickly breath out. Did she pick up on what I said?

No is the answer to that question. As I walk into the next room, she's back to how she was. Phew. That was close.

We sit in the museum coffee shop, having spent a good few hours wandering the place. I'm looking around for anyone who might be onto us. She's staring deep into her coffee. I'd love to know what's on her mind. She said she didn't want a cake. I don't know why. She loves cakes. Maybe I'm being too deep. She might just be thinking about us. What she's been missing all these years. But no, she's definitely looking regretful. Now I'm getting really worried. So I decide we should leave now. I grab her arm, but she flings me off. I go crashing into one of the other tables, spoiling one two-point-four child family's day trip. I get up angrily, and go to hit her. As I stomp towards her, she cringes into her own lap, weeping more bitterly than I have ever known anyone. Her hair flops down over her face, hiding it from view. Looking at her, I crumble again. I reach out, take her hand, and gently lead her out of the café and out of the museum.

We sit on the grass for a while. The atmosphere is tense. Nothing at all is said for what seems like forever. She just sits there plucking grass from the ground, staring into space; her eyes glazed, her mouth still, her hands moving robotically. I just sit there staring into space. Her space. Her movement entrances me. I can't escape. All of a sudden she stands up, the action startling me. I leap into the air, I think startling her, and we both laugh nervously. At least, in my case it's nervously. She makes the first move; she comes toward me and looks at me. Normally I would not be able to withstand, but she's used her joker too many times. I stand firm. Well, firm-ish. She is forced to say something, so she suggests we go back to the car and finish the day off. What a very, very, good idea I think, but I just nod indifferently. We slowly turn round. She looks at me, I look at her: I get a sudden feeling of realisation. I can't go through with it. For a moment I actually believe that I won't do it. But I know I will: I deserve it for putting up with everything she wanted to do today. Besides, I'll be doing her a favour. As we drift back to the car, my arm creeps around her. She doesn't even flinch. I move it down her body, slowly, tentatively. She seems to approve. Rapture envelops my heart, my mind floats away on a slow tide of quiet, time slows down. Suddenly I see the future. It's wonderful.

And now I'm here. They said it was cold-blooded, pre-meditated, and depraved. But they don't know. I did it for her, and for me. We both gained. They'll say she would have survived, of course they will, because otherwise they've got nothing against me. But we all know that it isn't true. She was going to die. I brought great pleasure to two people in one day who would otherwise have done without. Is that so bad?

But now I'm here.

Cold.

Alone.

Wishing someone would do the same for me.




© Henry Bush, 2013

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