She feels nothing. No sense of loss? Nothing. Glancing at the rear-view mirror her heart lifts at the miles stacking up behind her. Having all the time in the world she drives slowly. Her time at last, her life reclaimed.
Fine rain. Windscreen wipers squeak their protest as they wave long arms to and fro, leaving arcs of clear glass to see ahead. She leans forward, eyes squinting, something or somebody is lying in the middle of the road. She swerves. Skidding on the greasy tarmac the car, now nothing more than a metal box, somersaults as it falls. Windscreen wipers continue their protest, then stop mid-arc.
Yellow leaves on grizzled branches dance with flying lumps of earth in a frenetic ceilidh. Mother Nature fighting the despoiler of her kingdom. A kaleidoscope of colours, sounds and movements embrace her, jostle and shake her, come up close and recede. She holds on to the reality of grey sky just glimpsed before she feels herself spiralling down an endless tunnel… a latter day Alice in Wonderland … will she become the miniature Alice or the gigantic Alice … will she find a ‘Drink Me’ bottle or an ‘Eat Me’ cake?
She arrives with a bump. Out of the darkness… her son’s room as it was when he was a boy… now magically he’s become a man… she sees his nervous face as he tells them he’s gay. Angry voices. His relegation to family pariah. She feels his pain. He’s gone. When did the love of her life leave? She’s voicing her concern for him. Hurtful jibes from scornful daughter and husband… four-year-old granddaughter picking up their disapproval sing-song voice choruses… ‘Silly Nana, naughty uncle… silly Nana, naughty uncle…’
How long has she been in this nether world?
Deserted by speech and movement, she strains to see and hear.
Holding onto consciousness, distant voices permeate the emptiness.
… hang in there… out soon… can’t leave them… need to hurry…
When were you brave enough to go? When did you put the keys in the bowl on the hall table? A blue bowl. When did you close the ebony black front door to your life of forty-four years? When did you look back at the shiny lion’s head knocker?
Consciousness stays for a moment, then shrivels and leaves a child with her parents on their Sunday afternoon drive. She’s the child. Dad’s car. The small Austin A35. They’re on their magical mystery tour. She’s their navigator. Her mother sits quietly beside her dad. Still not sure of ‘right’ and ‘left’, she directs him from the back seat: ‘Turn down the next road on your side, Daddy, after that turn down the road on my side.’ She sees his large hands on the steering wheel. His patient face, eyes creased in a smile as her voice rises in excitement. Her mother peers around from the front seat, looks deep into her eyes, her hand reaching out to give her chubby knee an affectionate ‘well done’ squeeze…
She welcomes her new reality.