Sunday, June 1
Everyone woke up late and nobody felt rested.
After breakfast I read the news online for an hour or so. Anib had replied to my letter, and so I replied in turn. I looked in my diary to try to remember his wife’s name and looked at the diary entry for January 11. This took me straight back to the last conversation that I had with Auo, which I realised that I had reported wrongly.
When I saw her in the morning she had an oxygen mask and was speaking in a whisper. She was conscious, however, and making coherent sense. I sat at the side of her bed, holding her hand. She was strapped to the bed to stop her wriggling or pulling out any of the wires and tubes that were inserted into her.
The first thing she said was “I’m sorry, daddy”, and I squeezed her hand and said “There is nothing to be sorry about, girlywhirly,” which was a pet name I used sometimes when she needed cheering up. She asked for apple juice and I said I would tell the nurses. She said, “I need it now please”. I muttered something non-commital because I knew that the doctors were not going to let her have anything sweet.
Finally she held my hand hard for a moment and whispered very clearly, “I’m not liking this”.
Those were her exact words, as I remember them, and all this hit me as soon as I read the diary entry; and I found myself crying uncontrollably. I cried for fifteen minutes or so, with this final conversation suspended at the front of my mind.
Now I have gone for a walk. I will walk for a very long time. Later in the afternoon I will go for an equally long cycle ride. I will avoid cycling to the beach and instead head towards Prisma, taking a circuitous back route through some little parks: a route that Auo and I explored just once.
I will shower and go to bed early. I will dream again about going to London with Auo. I will keep finding myself in the Dining Plaice, a fish and chip shop we found in Soho, and went to both years.
Each time it will be a very pleasant feeling, the two of us together laughing at how big the portions are; until something wakes me up and I realise that it is just a glimpse of a parallel universe which, frankly, I would prefer to live in.