Edith, my love
Photograph by Yigit Gunel, Story by Jo Jakeman
Edith, my love, is that you up ahead? Can you not wait for me a while?
Let me sit on that bench and catch my breath. It gets away from me, from time-to-time, but I’ll snare it next time it goes by. See, I’m not ready to go through that gate just yet, so I think I’ll rest here in the sun.
Edith, would you take a look at them flowers? Red and yellow tulips standing as straight and proud as sentries. They’re so pretty and just like the ones you had in your bridal bouquet. Did I get that wrong? Sorry, my love, but all flowers smell just as sweet to me. I’m an old man, a slow man, and you can’t begrudge me my sketchy memories of so long ago.
Besides, who could blame me for not taking my eyes off your beautiful face on our wedding day? If it wasn’t for that photograph on the mantlepiece I swear I wouldn’t know we’d had flowers at all. All I remember is me and you, and the vows we made in front of those who are no longer with us. God rest ‘em.
Now you come to mention it, these flowers are spring blooms, aren’t they? And I know we got hitched in the summer. Are you saying that we didn’t? You think it was the winter? Come now, Edith, are you sure?
Well, you’ll have to forgive me. I must’ve mistaken that warm glow of love in my chest for the heat of the summer sun. I could have sworn the birds were singing and I was sweating buckets in my borrowed suit. But, now you mention it, I do recall a roaring fire in the hall where Aunt Vi and Uncle Bill danced around so quickly they knocked into our table and spilled the drinks all over your Dad’s trousers. The look on his face made the band stop playing and we all held our breath. And then Da threw back his head and laughed as if he’d never stop, and the music began once again.
I’ll never forget our honeymoon in Blackpool. Behave yourself! Scarborough? Ah, maybe you’re right, my love. Time has shown that you usually are.
It was the seaside, that’s for sure, and there were donkeys and sticks of rock that we couldn’t get our teeth into. It was blustery, and rained just enough to give us an excuse to stay indoors. I couldn’t have planned it better.
Can you hear the sound of the children on the swings, Edith? It hardly seems right that we’re old enough to have great-grand-children, does it? Not that I’m complaining. Those little angels are my world. It’s just, well, I remember bouncing Our Karen on my knee and would you look at her now? She’s a grandmother herself with hair as grey as a pigeon’s belly.
I can hardly believe that so many years have passed by that our baby girl is getting her pension. And can anyone tell me how our grandson is on his second marriage when it was only yesterday I caught him bunking off school and smoking in the park?
I hold my hands up. I accept that it won’t be long now until I reach the end of the line and this’ll be the last stop for me. But let me tell you one thing, I’m not leaving without a fight. They’ll have to drag me kicking and screaming into the next world.
No, Edith, I promise I’ll not make a scene. You know I’m only joking and, when the time comes, I won’t make a fuss.
Well, I’ve caught up with that breath now and I’m holding on to it fast, so I think I can walk on a bit more. Perhaps I’ll go to the swings where I can give Ellen-Edith a push. If only I had the strength in my legs to get up off this bench. Our bench. Did you see me give the plaque a polish with my hankie?
Edith Anne Morrow – Gone but never forgotten.
But you’re not gone, are you, dear? I see you, beyond the gate, waiting for me and tapping your foot impatiently. Your memory is better than mine so you know, as well as I do, that I’ve never liked to be rushed. Took me near-on three years to make an honest woman of you, even though I knew from the first time I set eyes on you that you were the one for me. I like to dig my heels in, once in a while, just to keep ‘em sharp.
I miss you so much that it crushes the breath out of me sometimes, and it’s all I can do to put one foot in front of the other. But I’m not quite finished here.
For one thing, I’m only half way through a game of chess with Big Don. I think I’ve got him this time and I’ve not had him on the ropes like this since before my hip replacement. And little Ellen-Edith and I are reading Little Red Riding Hood together. She likes the way I do the voices, especially when I’m the wolf. I do the actions too and you should hear her shriek with delight.
Yes, I can see that you’re ready. Please stop looking at your watch. Can you not wait just a little while longer? Are you in such a rush to spend an eternity with me? I am irresistible, it’s true.
It’s enough for me to know that you’ll be there when the time is right, but does that time have to be right now? There’s a little bit more that I want from this life and a whole lot more that this life wants from me. So, leave it with me, because I’m not done yet, and I’ll keep living life for us both.
You’re always with me, and I’ll be with you soon. It’s not long now, Edith, my love.
Jo Jakeman was the winner of the prestigious Friday Night Live competition at York Festival of Writing. Her debut Psychological Thriller was published in the UK as Sticks and Stones by Harvill Secker (Penguin Random House) and as The Exes’ Revenge in the USA and Canada. Her second thriller SAFE HOUSE is due summer 2019. Follow her on twitter @JoJakemanWrites
Yigit Gunel got his first camera when he was 12. This led him to study Journalism; he got a bachelor’s degree graduating with a photography project in 2002. After that, he took an MFA in Visual Communication Design. Since 2007, he has been working with worldwide advertisement clients, agencies and magazines. Follow him on instagram @ygstudiouk