Perfect Autumn

by Amalasuntha

“Who’s there? Is that you, have you come again?”

Yes my love, I am here, my Tam

“Yes, it’s Julie Mr Tamworth, how are you feeling today?”

“Don’t go.”

“Didn’t you sleep well? I’m here all day today Mr Tamworth, you can just press the button and I’ll come back.”

But Tam, you know I have to go soon

“Now, I need you to take your tablets and settle down. I’m sure we can get you to the gardens this morning, won’t that be nice? It’s a lovely day for the end of October.”

Beloved, is it October already? I thought we had more time

“No, no my love. We don’t.”

“You don’t want to go to the gardens, the day room then? Maybe it is a bit cold out. I’ll just take your temperature.”

You look different, did you get a new shirt? The colour suits you, I always did like blue on you. You wore blue on our day, your best suit

“You haven’t changed, that dress makes you look beautiful. Did I mention that today?”

“Thank you Mr Tamworth, that’s nice of you to say, but it’s just my uniform. There we go, a nice steady reading, that’s what we like.”

It was important to look our best, on our day. It was just for us. There was only ever you

“Blood pressure next, it’ll just take a minute.”

We found a perfect space, a sheltered spot to lay the rug out to kneel on, you had trouble getting the candles to stay lit. When the ceremony started all I could see was you, and I knew then. The four winds played around us and the sea gave us beautiful music, the sun shone and it felt like it was just for us

“I did too. Just for us.”

“There we go, all done, I’ll just mark your chart. You know, you’ve been with us nearly a year now Mr Tamworth?”

I said that I’d be there for you, and I meant it. We spoke the words together, called upon the spirits to witness our vows and promises, and the day was perfect. I can still feel the touch of the cord binding my wrist to yours. It’s still there

“A year. It’s almost over.”

Yes my love. I’ll wait for you. I’ll find a way into your dreams. Watch for me

“Oh Mr Tamworth, you are daft, the day’s only just begun. It’s morning, see, look up at the clock, it’s seven twenty-eight. I know you understand that, don’t be silly now.”

Do you remember our special day my love? A perfect autumn day on the beach?

“I remember.”

“I’m sure the Doctor will be pleased to hear it, you’ve got therapy this afternoon haven’t you? You can tell them then. You’ll remember till then?”

“I remember.”

No leaves on the dunes Tam, we thought it was so odd, remember?

“I remember.”

“Good, that’s good. I’ll just change your sheets, won’t take me a mo.”

I can’t remember the wind being cold that day, it never was when we were together, or maybe it was and I just didn’t mind

“It was a little, not much.”

“A little? Not much sleep? I can tell Doctor, I’m sure he can fix you something?”

“No, it’ll stop me dreaming, thank you all the same.”

“If you’re sure? Maybe you can have a nap this afternoon instead?”

“No. If I dream, I’ll miss the time we have left.”

“Righto Mr Tamworth, of course.”

We didn’t pack much, we couldn’t afford it, just a simple cord, some mismatched candles, a chalice, wine, our letters and a rug, you insisted we had to carry it all in a wicker hamper, just for the look, you said. People will see us and think we’re out for a picnic you said. And you were right, no-one thought any different. We must have looked so funny carrying a hamper and a rug at the end of October

“Mr Tamworth? Are you all right?”

“Yes. I’m just listening.”

It made it easy for the others to carry it all back. Even then, you were considerate to everyone. Even after all, all that we’d been through. Desperate and lost together. Couldn’t see another way out. We had no other way my love. We’d sorted the money as best we could and it wasn’t enough. But we could afford one last day. Only one

“I don’t want to remember that. Can’t I just talk to you?”

“Of course you can Mr Tamworth, there we are, nice and clean and ready for the day. What did you order for breakfast this morning?”

Scrambled eggs on toast, as always

“Yes, eggs, I have them because they’re your favourite.”

“Eggs again? At least chef knows what you like, eh? Do you want coffee or juice?”

“Coffee, please.”

Extra milk

“Yes, extra milk please.”

You always forget

“Yes I do. Maybe I just like to be reminded by you”

“There’s your coffee. Extra milk, just how you like it. Did you know it’s Halloween tomorrow Mr Tamworth? All the kids will be out trick or treating. Did you ever when you were a child?”

A year and a day, that’s what we vowed my love, that’s all the time I can stay

“I know.”

So today will be my last, and I have a gift for you beloved: just remember what we promised to each other. Remember all of it

“I used to go all the way up the street, to every house, you must have done the same? When you were younger?”

“I went with our Neil, he’s younger than me, I had to promise to look after him, we dressed up as ghosts.”

“Did you? Well, that’s something, still, kids nowadays eh? They can’t do half the things we got up to back then. You must have been a sight, I expect? Big lad like you. Must have been tall for your age?”

I can remember the end, the profound sense of completeness, you and I knelt together, just listening to the wind and sea and feeling the sky above and sand below

“Mr Tamworth?”

It was perfect my love, just as you said it would be. And you poured the wine, and we watched the tablets fizz together

“You must be looking forward to your next review, it’s this week, I’m sure. I’ll have to look it up and check the date, can’t be too far away. Just think, you could be out of here soon, especially if… well, maybe I’ll just go check that date with Doctor. I can come back and tell you later, come about lunchtime and see how you’re doing?”

Just tell them the truth my Tam, and you’ll be free. Tell them I’m waiting for you and that it’s all right. It will be all right

“I can’t”

“That’s all right Mr Tamworth, I can. I’ll come back in a few hours, just stick my head round the door. It’s no bother.”

We held the chalice up to the spirits and asked them to bless it with potency. Our fingers touched together and the wind chased the warmth out, and my hair about. We both drank deep and held each other until the sleep came. We wanted no more days, no chance for life to take us apart. This one was as perfect as we could have ever wanted. That’s all you have to tell them. That it was perfect, our perfect day. And you can be free

“Don’t want to be free without you. I’d rather stay in here.”

But I can’t stay Tam, I only have as long as our vow, then I’ll have to go. I don’t want to. I’ll visit in your dreams. Be happy my sweet beloved, I love you even now, I’ll wait for you here

“That’s sweet Mr Tamworth, and I’ll miss you too when you go. I’m sure Doctor will be round soon. Oh! That’s my beeper, ‘scuse me. Room 23? Bloody hell, not her again.

Mr Tamworth, I’ll see you in a bit, remember the red button won’t you? If you need anything? I’ll be back at lunch OK?”

Read more about Amalasuntha HERE

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