Short Story Preview: I’m Not Talking About Tea – Gabriela Harding
The cottages on her left and right are identical, mirror reflections of trimmed lawns and lacquered brown doors. Cold sweat forms on her brow.
She knows she should talk to someone about it. But who?
Her GP, that Northern lad whose Lancashire accent makes her stomach ball up like when she was a young a girl on a date? Rosemary Woolbridge isn’t ready to admit she’s that old, not to someone she fancies. Not yet.
The kindly nurse? She looks too young for her age, a clear sign that she couldn’t even begin to evaluate bitterness. She’d only do her job, refer her to some dementia specialist. She’s been to one before, with a friend. And no, she couldn’t go through the humiliation of singing a nursery rhyme back to front, or recite what she had to eat at Christmas – and in what order. Rosemary needs more than that. She needs someone who really understands; someone she can talk to.
And yet, she’s been wandering for at least an hour, drenched through by the October drizzle. How long can she keep going? What if her house no longer exists, what if she’s forgotten years of her life? What if – and it’s a big if, because Rosemary suspects her age by the ugly hands clutching the Hermes purse – she’s a fugitive from an old people’s home?
Fear makes her weak at the knees. She takes deep breaths, but there’s something in her chest – an obstruction. It’s all in your head, she tells herself, all in your …
There’s the clock tower, at last. The photograph of the dead girl is there, solid proof that Rosemary hasn’t somehow somersaulted into the future. A tramp sleeps curled up in the warmth of the candles. She resists the impulse to kick him. How dare they make this place so filthy?