Laura, come back

It’s quiet and warm in here, it must be like this inside a cocoon. Outside there’s an awful commotion, jostling and shouting and shoving, but in here, ooooh, safe and serene…Oh, look! There’s Mark, tears running down his face, handing me this squirming bundle, this little pink octopus of arms and legs. “Look what we did, Laura,” he whispers, and you can’t imagine the feeling, this tsunami of love for him and for this wonderful bundle…where do you put all that feeling?

Oh, look at that mountainside, how the sun gleams pink off those marble cliffs; so this is Tuscany, I’ve wanted to be here forever. Mark beside me, breathless; he’s mesmerised by the sunset too.

Voices, urgent, demanding. “Laura, don’t leave us!” Ah, that would be Dad. The only time I’ve seen you cry, what is it with men? Soft tears caught in the wrinkles around your eyes. Dad, I have to go, there’s nothing for a young girl here. I’ll be fine, and I’ll be back, it’s just a plane ride. Don’t worry. I love you so much.

Oh, there’s Lucky! My dog Lucky! When I stand up, I can put my arms right around his neck, and nestle my face in that soft fur just by his ear. Lucky, I love you, I love you, I love you.

Insistent voices again, pushing on the edges of my cocoon. “Laura, stay with me, stay with me, Laura.”…Mum, I’m here for you. Let me take my coat off and hug you with all my heart. Look at you, so frail and old. But I’m back to see you and cuddle you and say goodbye when you’re ready, I’m not going anywhere. So tired, so sad, Mum, don’t go, I’m still hungry for you, I haven’t seen you enough, I’m not ready for you to leave.

Distant voices, jostling, pushing and shoving. “We’re losing her.” Don’t you love how there’s that silvery strip along the beach at the edge of the ocean, and the waves lick at it, and the little sea birds make dark shadows as they skitter across it.

A voice from a mountaintop a thousand miles away. “Clear!”

Oh! The weight of it! Like a truckload of gravel, like being caught in a vice. Lungs full of hot painful air, don’t open your eyes, don’t let it in. “Laura, are you there?” I must look.

I blink at the sight of it. Strangers with kind, anxious faces, smiling at me, holding my hand, helping hold back the weight of things. “Laura! It’s good to see you. You’re going to be all right.”

Will I? – Of course I’ll be all right. Of course.

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