More hours in the day by Emma Nay

If only there were more hours in the day. She shrugged off her coat by wiggling her shoulders, like a child, and let it fall to the floor. At least then she was alleviated of one burden. Work. Doctors. Bills. Bills. Insurance. Work. She pushed her fist to her mouth and forcefully sucked at a meaty knuckle. As she progressed through the house she thoughtlessly cast off her clothes. The slinking trail of clothes lead through the barren halls to the soft, red light of the bedroom.Illuminated solely by the natural light that filtered through the scarlet gauze of the curtains was her figure; contained in the fetal position at the centre of the bed. With her white body unmasked by any clothing or blanket, networks of spidery veins and deep rolls of fat were exposed. But as she raised her knees to her chest her face became serene. More than serene. Ignorant. As if her problems were simply beyond comprehension. Something about the feeling of all her limbs pushing against each other was like a wall against the passage of time. She was yang without yin. A white comma. With a black dot in the head she thought as she slid into a deep sleep.

 

Earlier in the day she’d sat in the doctors waiting room, attempting to simultaneously plan what she would eat for dinner and write in a ‘Get Well Soon’ card for a colleague she was trying to curry favour with. Sarah worked on the desk opposite her and, much to the dismay of the entire team, refused to say ‘hello’ in the morning or ‘goodbye’ as she left. Sarah’s self-contained nature was as alluring as it was frustrating. I’ll catch her off guard while she’s weak she thought as she added a third kiss to the card. Does three kisses seem a bit desperate? Her hand hovered above the card. She had always seen herself as the mum of the team and now she was trying to win over a moody teenage daughter. She began to question if a sloppily affectionate card was the way to do it. Whilst she was deeply regretting the three hearts she had drawn on the envelope she dropped her pen. It rolled steadily across the waiting room but was brought to a stop when it met the wheel of a pram. She bustled over to retrieve her pen, still worrying about little hearts, beef stew and if she could get to the shops in time. She grabbed the pen and as she rose back into a standing position she locked eyes with a baby, less than a month old in age. For a split second her worries were blocked out. She stared at the constantly moving face, the balled up fists, the pink tongue. She wondered what he was thinking about. Nothing, probably. As she retreated back to her seat her mind went to strange places. We spend most of our lives as babies, she thought. Because time speeds up as we become older till every day is a blink of an eye. But if that baby were to watch The Big Bang, the fraction of a second that started the expansion of the universe, it appear to him as slow as a flower opening. Therefore we must spend most of our lives in the milky haze of infancy. An endless stretch of time. But she didn’t know how much she needed time, yet. The doctor will see you now.

 

She remained in her bed all day, curled up like a fist. Occasionally she would awake and release a bellowing sob, her chest bent like a bow and her face a bruised purple. Her head would become filled with the pounding of the blood rushing though her head. Thud. Thud. Thud. As the sound grew louder it seemed to be coming from the walls around her and become as mellow as a bass drum. Then she would once again fall into an endless sleep.

 

When her mother found her the room reeked of faeces and warm skin. She looked into her mother’s eyes, the same expression of dumb tranquility still visible on her face. How long had it been since I’ve seen another person? It could have been years. She barely recalled who the concerned face in front of her belonged to. I think I knew you a long time ago. Her body remained limp as her mother raised her off the bed by her armpits. She was silent until her mother swung open the bedroom door, exposing her to the bright light and cold air of the greater world outside of her cave. Her mother jumped at the bestial howl that erupted from the grown woman in her arms and a tear rolled down her wrinkled cheek. My baby, the mother thought.

 

Over the next few months (years? eons?) visitors came and went. They arrived with feelings of guilt and sympathy. They left startled. Not only because of how quickly she had lost her hair but because of her lolling head, the half shut eyes and her unnerving reluctance to speak. Each visitor, to her, was like a phantom from a past life. She would watch them move agonisingly slowly through her halls. They wore deeply exaggerated masks of kindness over their discomfort as they attempted to pass into her world. Even Sarah, her coveted coworker, visited. On Sarah’s arrival she had released a gurgling chuckle and stretched her hands out towards the strange figure. Sarah began a painstaking progression towards the bed. As Sarah reached the halfway point between the door and the excited figure there was a change. Her face crumpled and red hot tears spilled from her eyes. A high pitched scream once again burst from her open mouth and Sarah backed away towards the door. The agony of watching her object of desire retreat as slowly as a glacier was unbearable. She threw her body around in frustration. What is happening?

 

Three days later she was admitted into hospital. She wouldn’t have been able to understand why. Just like a newborn she had a soft spot in her head growing larger and larger by the day. Now when she lay in the fetal position she revealed a ridge of vertebrae from the top of her neck to her tail bone. Fatless, hairless, mindless. A blank slate. She spent her days simply kicking her legs or flexing her fingers to savour, and then forget, this newfound concept of motion. One day, as she rolled her head from left to right she saw a mother carrying a baby through the window. Her heart raced. If only there were more hours in a day. She didn’t know what the words meant or where they came from but she felt scared. How many more hours will there be? She kicked her legs and banged her fists but there was nothing she could do to stop the lingering fear.

 

Nurses rush in and out of her room. The sounds of the medical equipment and voices reach a deafening crescendo. In her head she hears nothing. As the world slows down to an utter standstill one noise penetrates the silence. The only movement is the hight pitched scream of the flatlining life support machine. Beeeeeeep. It never ends.  

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