On one of my walks, I happened across the ‘lost property drop’ or the ‘tramps’ locker’ as it was affectionately known by the whacked-out night-shift nurses.
In these late night and early hour states I strolled; neither fully asleep or awake; both there, not there and all that’s in between. The drugs they’d given me kept me up but knocked me for six too. Even if they hadn’t a nurse would have woken me every quarter-hour to make sure I was still with them.
I knew the faces around me in the beds, behind half closed doors in private rooms; plugged into machines pumping life in and out of them in differing measures depending on whether they were on their way in or out themselves. I knew them all pretty well even they didn’t see me. So, as I opened the creaky old doors of the locker my dream-like state imagines, understands and feels the history belonging to each item…
There’s a dusty old discarded hat: dusty from being dropped in despair under a bed as the last tear fell from a face that had finally given up. A gift from a husband, to cover a wife’s bald head during her treatment. Worn every day until he was knocked down outside the hospital as he rushed to see her – his last visit. He was knocked down – beating her to the other side in the end.
A scarf dangles as if it may drop at any moment from one shelf: It had lived a perpetual recycled life. Bought, worn and sold repeatedly; a charity shop regular. It’s stripes a timeless hue of colours tasteful enough to live again and again and last an extra season. Also, dull enough to get bored of and be handed in with a load of last years work shirts that were stained with deceit, lipsticks and perfumes from one of the ‘ bits on the side’ from his work. The scarf’s last owner was found-out. His guilty-piece super-glued to his stomach in his sleep as he dreamed of another one. She aroused him awake and he felt the conflicted pleasure and pain as stretched and restrained skin tried to expand and fight against a glue that wouldn’t forgive; and neither would she.
There’s an old lady’s nightie. A lad took a shot at someone with an air pistol whist driving past in his car. He must have really hated them; missed though. That little tiny pellet bullet carried on over a small field or two where it narrowly missed the old lady as she bent down in her back yard, fetching a load of washing to hang. The hate filled pellet missed the old dear, continued on and hit a wasps’ nest in the tree her father had planted. The tormented wasps exploded from the nest looking for the nearest outlet for their rage and the hate that had been transferred. Shortly afterwards the old lady was found by her son; hundreds, maybe thousands, of stings all over her. The silk nightie helped in here, stroking her sensitive skin as she walked to the toilet and back.
A child’s camouflaged army jacket is there folded neatly: Given by a man, just out the army, to a boy who thought he was his father. A boy too young to understand the noises from the room next door between the man and his mother; whether they were pleasure or pain. Gripping a pillow so tight to his head to make them go away his ears bled. Too young to understand the drinking, out of control anger, the fights or why the TV that kept the boy company in the calm early hours of each day was now in pieces through a smashed window to the street below. Without it there was nothing to drown out the sounds.
So he gripped the pillow against his head;
as hard as he could.
Yes, there it is again. That dusty old discarded hat. Dusty from being dropped in despair under a bed as the last tear fell from a face that had finally given up.
I’d given up.
The cancer battle was won and the hairs were growing back. But, with no love to see them any more; I gave in and went to meet him – I’m gone now too. Spending an eternity, each night I make my way to the visitors lobby below to catch him before the car hits him – stopping each time as I pass by the cupboard.
I look at the bits and pieces of people’s lives and my own.
I always hope there’s less in there, not more.
I hold each woolly hat, glove or scarf; imagining the days loved and lost.
I hold each child’s mitten, coat or blanket and I hope they’re just lost. That they sit in the cupboard as their love lives for another day…