Saturday, January 10, 2009

The View From the Edge

From up on the Icarus Rock, the sea looks as smooth as a steel blade and almost indistinguishable from the sky. When I was a child I used to watch the fishing boats from up here as they returned to the harbour. Now only three remain.

Malcolm stands behind me. He’s a big man. When they downsized the university, he had to leave. He just didn’t fit anymore.

We walk together a lot. Well, Malcolm walks and I get pushed. I am playing my part in the ancient Greyling Bay tradition of “showing the cripple to the wind”.

There used to be a hospital here where people came to get better on fresh air. Only I will never get better. Nothing in me has ever moved properly, and it never will. They say I’m not wired up right. Even now I’m telling my arm to move. Nothing. When I do make things move they call it an involuntary movement.

Involuntary my arse.

“George,” Malcolm said to me this morning when he lifted me out of bed, “You know I love you, don’t you?” Of course I know that. I was there when Mum said, you promise to look after him until the day he dies, and he said yes. And then she closed her eyes.

I’m looking down now, at the rocks and the beach. I have never been this close to the edge. Beyond my tartan blanket my front wheels turn in the air, my harness holding me safely in my wheelchair. Malcolm buckled me in tightly this morning, like he always has. He has lifted me all my life without once dropping me. I can hear him mumbling away now, but the wind whips away his words as quickly as he can say them.

“Don’t worry son. I’ll come with you. We’ll be together. All of us. Please forgive…”


The voice comes from below. A man scuttles like a shabby crab along the beach. For a moment he stops and looks up, following the progress of a solitary gull as it heads towards me in its spiralling flight.

The rocks, the sand, the sky and sea retreat from my sight as Malcolm pulls me back.

And although he is silent, the vibration from his hands passes through the handles of the chair, into the backrest, and communicates to my bony spine that he is sobbing.

And when my right arm raises, I smile. I knew it would.

Allan Mayer


Anna Russell said...

This is so touchig and bitterweet. I love the description of the sea as a steel blade too, I could really visualise that.
Nice to see Whitey mentioned as well.
Great write.

Anna xxx

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments Anna. Yes, that first piece set such a high standard, and I was inspired by it. Be interesting to see where Whitey pops up next.

Anonymous said...

Yes, great writing, and a nice mini-twist at the end. Like this new story line a lot.I'm thinking Malcolm needs a future as well as George.

Peter Drobinski said...

I enjoyed this very much, Allan. In just a few words, I felt years of love, stress, care and tension between Malcolm and George, and the desperation that brings a carer to this brink. I look forward to reading more.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for these comments. I feel like I am walking among giants here when I see the standard of some of the writing and the CVs of the contributors, so such positive affirmations are greatly appreciated.

I wasn't sure if I would be contributing again, and I have no idea where George and Malcolm are going. But I'm now tempted to follow them down from that rock, and would be fascinated by how they interact with some of the other inhabitants of Greyling Bay.
Thanks again,


Sally Zigmond said...

Yes indeed. A powerful, truthful piece with well-wrought characterisation and emotional depth, all the better because it's not overdone.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Sally,and yes,I must admit it took a right Old Hacking to get rid of the purple patches.But it was worth it to get included here and to receive such encouraging comments,

Jane Smith said...

Stop basking in the glow, Allan, and write me another piece!

(Joking apart, I'm really pleased by the reaction I've had to this project. I'd welcome a few more submissions--I've only got a few more in hand to go up--but the standard of writing is good, and I'm thrilled.)