“One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no-one ever comes to sit by it. Passersby see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way” –Vincent van Gogh
On her frequent travels to the City, she catches a train that zips through the underground tunnels, eagerly rushing towards the vibrant pulse of the centre.
On the infrequent times she catches the all stations, the wild train is tamed and stops at the timeworn Nursing Home, to pay its respects to the elderly, then races on leaving few on the station. Many travellers offer a passing glance, hardly aware that they are seeing a compound of society’s jewels cowering behind laminated door numbers.
She is one of the few who opt to visit the old place, but walking up to the Nursing Home, the feeling of bravery is lost. In retrospect, she admits that, when walking past countless doors, choosing one number to behind which to explore only deepens her heart ache and she fights back tears. She visits the nursing home to see her grandfather, Brian, but during her long hours there, she calls in on a few of the other residents.
Today, she walks over to Veronica and sits by her bed. As usual, she notes the figure of the Holy Mother on her bed-stand next to two cards of well-wishes, which provide a bloom of colour to the bleak room. To the fragile woman’s left, a sepia version of her youthful self in a Nurses’ uniform. The younger Veronica smiles up at the camera and from this, May notices subtle differences between the Nurse Veronica and the fragile Veronica. Presently, Veronica’s face is wrinkled, to the extent of which the lines may be traced to roads on a map, each offering a path that leads to an experience she had whilst in that uniform.
May sits and offers her hand, then cradles Veronica’s (which by stark contrast is icy cold). Her skin if lax and smooth, each finger ending in painted pink nails, (from the carers who decided to ‘pretty her up’). As she grasps May’s hand, she looks not at fledgling visitor, but through her and with each twitch of her mouth, Veronica clutches her hand stronger.
Today, she tells a story. One that doesn’t take long. One that May struggles to understand. Her speech is of incoherent and her listener must pause to decipher what she’s thinking. Her eyes smile and somehow, May finds she does indeed understand and proceeds to lose herself.