Please note, I am no writer of any kind. For some inexplicable reason I just had the desire to give it a go today. I hope someone out there finds some enjoyment in it.
After David left I decided I'd better make good on my promise and find a new place to live. The woman from the council said there might be a temporary property available. That someone had recently died at the retirement village outside of Holyhead.
When I finished at school on Friday, I went to David's and gathered up what I thought was mine. As it turns out, almost everything was his. It wasn't long after we'd met that I moved in. It was gradual though. Bits and pieces brought over from mom's in bin bags tucked under the bus seats they save for people and their buggies. As the months rolled on there was less and less at mom's. I'd still visit on a Sunday for lunch but that was about it.
I had this porcelain clock on the mantle at David's, two corgis sat either side of the clock face. David hated it. He had a thing for minimalist art and would order fake prints online. He liked Robert Ryman a lot. He thought my clock threw everything off. He'd often tell me how important it was to appreciate art but what he liked left me cold. I wrapped the clock in newspaper and tossed it into my backpack. I took a last look at the living room. It was something new now.
When I got to the village it was raining. Cold droplets cascading down my jacket. I alternated hands, dropping each bin bag to the ground to rub the speckles from my glasses. In front of the bus stop there was a pathway that led to the complex, flanked on either side by imitation grass astro turf. Beyond that, two identical adjacent blocks. Rows stacked on top of one another like lego bricks.
The woman at the council told me it was flat 2b, "the last flat on the ground floor". I searched for the receipt I'd scribbled the details on to check if I'd remembered it right. I hauled my bags over my shoulder and ran underneath the closest awning. I stared up at the sign fixed to the brick. 1a. I can wait here until the rain dies down, I thought.
From across the yard a woman was sitting in a wheel chair, a mask attached to her face. An enormous tube jutting out from her mouth connected to a canister strapped to the side of her chair. She stared in my direction and didn't move. She's sitting next to 2b, she might be my neighbour, I thought. As the rain died down I walked over towards her. As I approached, I wasn't sure if she was going to take the mask off or not. What's wrong with her, I thought? "Hi, I'm Kate". I extended my hand and wondered if she could move her arms. She didn't reach back. "Mad weather isn't it?". She continued to stare. "I'm only staying for a month or so, I need my own place for a minute and it's all I could get you know? Not that I'm not grateful or anything". She continued to stare. "Ok, well, it was nice meeting you". I took out my key, opened the door and stood alone in the hallway.
David and I usually ate together on Saturday mornings. He'd wake up later than I did and wander about the place yawning. He'd often glorify his exhaustion to me. Some invisible accomplishment he'd been gaining interest on since leaving uni.
There wasn't a kettle in the new kitchen, but there was an electric hob. I poured water over the tea bag, into my cup and peered through the net curtains. The rain had settled and I could see the opposite house and the whole complex in the daylight now, some strange vortex, wholly enclosed. A village of it's own making.
I put on my old slippers, took my cup and stepped out onto the concrete walkway. The woman from yesterday wasn't around now. I thought about knocking but decided against it. Either she couldn't talk or has seen so many people come and go, she doesn't go in for platitudes anymore. Pacing, I caught a glimpse of her kitchen. Pink lino on the floor, almost nothing out on the worktops. It looked unoccupied. I moved back to my half of the walkway and perched on the step to finish my tea. I should get started sorting what I have before Sunday rolls around, I thought. As I got up, I heard my neighbour careen around the corner, up over the astro turf and onto the walkway. She stopped before her door, I nodded and smiled. This time she nodded back in my direction. She then raised her hand and jostled the toggle on the arm rest. Her chair moved closer towards me. She raised her eyes to meet mine and looked back at my hands. She did this a second time. "I'm sorry, I don't understand". She repeated this a third time. I mumbled something and she reached out and opened up my right hand. She surveyed my palm, in all of its detail, looked back up at me and nodded again. "Sorry, can I help with something?". She shook her head, reversed and rolled up the ramp back into her flat.
On Sunday morning I started sorting through the rest of the papers I threw into my bag at David's. Bank statements, a few receipts, junk mail. In amongst them I found a cinema ticket I'd kept from when we started dating. He asked me to go to see the first Terminator, "on the original reel", he said. I didn't much want to go and don't like violent films but thought it'd be a good excuse to get to know one another. We got pretty swept away with each other after that.
I sorted through the rest hoping I'd find something else, but there was nothing. I stacked the ordered papers on the ground and went outside for a break. There wasn't anybody out, like the day before. After some time my neighbour's door opened. I stood up and checked to see if she needed any help. I found her raising her eyes to her forehead, motioning backwards. "Do you need some help?", she shook her head and motioned backwards with her eyes for a second time. She reversed the chair and gestured for me to come in. I stepped inside. She manoeuvred her wheelchair into the kitchen and positioned herself next to the dining room table. There was a chair opposite to her, so I sat too. "Is everything ok?", I asked. She nodded. "I hope you don't mind me asking, are you able to speak?". She stared at me and shook her head. After a few seconds passed she pointed to a badge on her cardigan. On a yellow background, in all black caps it read, "JANE". "I'm Kate, nice to meet you Jane". This time she extended her arm and we shook hands. "How long have you been here Jane?". She nodded 5 times. "Ah ok, and how do you like it? Do you have family that visit?". She shook her head. "Do you mind me asking, what's wrong with you? Shit sorry, umm, not like that, I mean, umm, are you sick?". She paused for a moment and nodded. She then reached into the pocket of her cardigan and pulled out a deck of cards.
I don't know anything about Tarot, other than what you see on T.V but I'm not a superstitious like that. She laid the cards on the table in front of me, either nodding or shaking her head as she passed each of them one by one. The last card in the row showed a stone tower. She looked down, paused, raised her head, but this time, looked right past me. Dust cascaded through the shards of light piercing through the window. Jane starred into it for what felt like a whole minute. Watching the particles dance before her I asked, "Are you ok Jane?", she shook her head. "Is there something I can do?", she shook her ahead again. "I had better be going Jane, I meet my mom on a Sunday for lunch, please let me know if there's anything I can help with, OK? As I said yesterday, I won't be staying too long, but while I'm here, feel free to knock on". She nodded her head. I let myself out and left, the cards still strewn about the table.
I didn't see Jane much after that afternoon and things went on as normal. David called and we hashed things out over the phone but we'd petered out long before that. The council explained I couldn't stay on at the village for another month so I moved back with mom. After a few weeks passed, one evening after work, I opened up my laptop and searched online for "Jane Tarot". Tons of results came up but only one from Holyhead. A local newspaper article with a headline that read, "LOCAL LADY FORESAW DIAGNOSIS". "I knew what was going to happen to me, the fibrosis I mean. The cards speak and I accept, I give myself up to that". I closed my laptop and looked outside into mom's garden. I thought about the tower card and how people do all sorts of things to justify their own lives, to deal with their own grief and make sense of things.
Mom plants Floribunda's every year and they're starting to bloom now. My phone rings. I offer to cover a shift for a new temp at work. I put on my jacket, walk outside and think about Jane.