You’re always up with the dawn, getting ready to go out to work or coming home from the night shift. Every morning, coming or going, your head pops round the door.
“Morning love!” you always say. “How are you?” Some days I mumble, or grunt, or just let the silence answer you. Some days I tell you truly. Some days I even remember to ask how you are doing.
“I’m great!” you say, “If I told you how good, you wouldn’t believe me!”
I wish I felt that good, even for one minute of every day.
Stay here, stay with me, don’t leave. The words are always there, but every day I trap them inside. I don’t have the breath to push them up and out of my mouth. I don’t have the heart to make your eyes even sadder as you smile and tell me you can’t.
Some days my troubles take over, and the tea you’ve brought me turns cold while the bad thoughts march round and round in my head. I can’t get out of bed. I can’t open the curtains. I don’t want to see the grey houses and the grey sky.
Some days I drink my tea, get up, make plans. I could go down to Morton Park to walk by the river. Maybe pop into Rendezvous for a coffee and a scone. My mind races ahead but then my body can’t move. The hours pass, the day goes from light to dark again, and I tell myself there was nothing I really needed to do, nowhere I needed to be where anyone would have missed me.
Some days I’m strong. I can open the door, step outside to pass the time of day with a neighbour, admire the flowers in a window box, the purple house down the street, the ginger kitten sitting on the wall.
Today is a good day. I am outside. I’m walking, I’m remembering to breathe.
But then the clock in the Tolbooth tower strikes eight and each chime is a thud of panic in my chest. I’m going to be too late.
I breathe faster, sucking in great gulps of air as I start to run. I won’t ruin this like I ruin everything else.
I’m on to Crofthead Road when I see the Kilmarnock train approaching. I start to think I might just make it.
When I arrive on the platform, I’m wheezing and spluttering and I’ve no breath to call out, but I’m in time to see the smile on your face when you get off the train and see me there waiting for you.