It must have been work wearing me down. I thought that I of all people could manage, but the exhausted face in the mirror staring back at me proved otherwise. What was happening to me? My mouth was drier than my mother’s sense of humour and my eyes were more sunk than any shipwreck. Michael was at work and I was at home having taken a few days off for a rest. To try and get my energy back. To sleep. It had been a few days already; I was exactly the same – worse in fact!
After slowly dragging myself through to the bed I threw up a small pool of potato and leek soup, carrots and raisins. Why is there always raisins in vomit? I looked down upon my, eh… my gift to the world and all of a sudden there were two. My head was spinning and I realised that all around me objects were doubling. I could see two beds, two wardrobes, two windows – two everything! My whole world was crumbling, it was as if a tornado had scooped me up into its wrath. I tripped over a floor lamp and fell fast into the brick-hard wall. The lamp smashed to the ground with a crash while another sound followed which was so unnerving, so unimaginable, so revolting that it could only have been the sound of human flesh meeting with a cold stone floor.
The dark although still harsh white walls quickly made me regret trying to open my eyes. It was quiet, too quiet. Silence was the only decoration in this empty, bare room. It smelt like cleaning disinfectant and plants – I was in hospital. Great. I turned my head towards the pungent smell of flowers. Sitting in a vase was a bunch of lavenders. I hate the smell of lavenders. My nose wrinkled with disgust and I rolled over to my right side to avoid the stench as best as I could. I was a little surprised when I saw Michael. He was sleeping like a child in a chair facing my bed – snoring too might I add.
He looked so funny in that position – I laughed. Instantly his eyes opened wide and stared into mine. He smiled and said,
“Wide awake.” I replied, remembering my new favourite Katy Perry song.
“How are you feeling?” I detected a little angst in his voice.
“Fine,” Michael looked unconvinced, “really I’m much better than before.” I shivered as a replay of that day filled my head, I saw the lamp fall again, and then I fell. My morbid thoughts were interrupted when Michael sneezed loudly, breaking the silence. My body jumped at the sound and I faintly heard a grumble from another patient.
“Sorry, it’s the flowers.” He apologised.
“I know, you’re allergic to lavenders and I hate the smell. So why did you choose them?” I asked, confused.
“Your mum brought them round but you were asleep and she didn’t want to wake you.”
“Oh…” Thinking that my mum didn’t know I hated the smell of lavenders – and have all my life – made me realise just how little we actually knew about each other.
I can’t remember falling asleep again, but I must have because the next time I opened my eyes the hospital was bright white and full of life. Doctors and nurses whizzed past the end of my bed, staring at clipboards and talking to patients. Michael was still with me and he had been awake for a while. A nurse made her way over to my bed with a sickeningly sweet smile.
“Good morning, Mrs Marcelo. Did you sleep well?”
“Oh, uh, we’re not married,” I laughed, “but I did sleep well, thank you.”
“My mistake,” she displayed that plastic smile again, “you look much better than you did yesterday.”
“I sure hope so!” I exclaimed, remembering the tired mess that stood in the mirror. The nurse flipped through a mountainous amount of paper on her clipboard, writing and ticking with a black biro as she did her day to day duties. I hadn’t noticed it when I woke during the night, but there was a thin piece of paper lying on my bedside table beside the lavenders. I reached out to investigate it and as I did I could feel the nurse and Michael both staring at me. I flipped the card over to see an old photograph that I had looked upon lovingly many times before. It was me on my 8th birthday. My mother was in it too; and we were both smiling, together. That was a rare event. However, I had felt much closer to my mother recently. Perhaps there would be another time where we would both smile – together. My hand brushed over our grins and I opened the card to read a simple “Get well soon!” Her signature was sprawled at the bottom with three very meaningful kisses. I propped up the card beside the flowers and relaxed with a sleepy and satisfied sigh.
We arrived home the next day and it was as if nothing had changed. The kettle was where I had left it, my dirty dishes still queuing to be washed. I walked to the bedroom with Michael following quietly. The door creaked open and the stink made my nose wrinkle again – but this smell was far worse than the lavenders. It smelt like potato and leek soup, carrots and raisins. I ran to the bathroom and began gagging. Fortunately gagging was all I did and instead of facing the bedroom again I settled on the sofa.
Food poisoning is something that you never expect to happen. Before eating a delicious picnic with your loving partner you don’t think to check all the food just in case. It’s a good thing Michael doesn’t like salmon on his oatcakes or we both might have been lying on that cold stone floor – and who would have phoned for the ambulance then? The Doctor said my case of food poisoning was quite severe which was obviously very reassuring. Not. On the positive side, it wasn’t work that had been wearing me down; it was dehydration from the dodgy salmon – yay! When I returned to work my desk was covered with flowers even though I had only been away just over a week. I didn’t know the people at BUTCH cared for me but the kind way they spoke as if I had been gone a century made me realise they were all my amazing friends.
“Charlie?” said Michael.
“Yes?” I said, transfixed to the TV screen. We had finally got rid of the old TV and bought a widescreen – my life was complete.
“I think we should go out tonight, you know, to celebrate you feeling better.” I was a little taken back because I only had food poisoning. I thought it was a rather odd event to celebrate. I raised an eyebrow telling him to explain himself.
“We don’t go out that much and I think you deserve to eat only the finest food after your ordeal.” He could tell that I was still unconvinced due to my eyebrow continuing to try to reach for the stars. “Well I’ve booked a table for 7 at Glassando’s so we’re going.” He laughed and I couldn’t help but laugh too. I had to admit I was looking forward to going out; it would give me an opportunity to wear my new dress I’ve simply been dying to show off to the world!
Arriving 5 minutes early to the restaurant was unusual as we were almost always late to reservations. We were shown to an outside table by a smartly dressed lady who had a smile similar to the nurses – fake. “Let’s hope the food doesn’t taste as plastic as her smile.” I giggled. Michael didn’t join in with my hilarious joke and it was then I realised she was still standing behind me.
“Enjoy your evening.” She said – without the smile. As she opened the door to the restaurant Michael burst out in laughter while I simply blushed.
“You’re redder than the drink.” Michael continued to laugh as a waiter poured us some complimentary red wine. The waiter departed from our table as fast as he came and I stuck my tongue out at Michael in a childish manner.
We drank, we ate, we talked. Throughout the whole evening the candle flickered and reflected in Michael’s shining eyes. It was as if there really was a fire burning in him; a fire of joy and love. I suppose there was – his heart. As I sipped the remnants of my wine glass he reached into his pocket and pulled something out. My heart lurched as I understood the real reason why we were eating out at the most expensive restaurant in town tonight. It wasn’t because I was feeling better from some sickly salmon, Michael was going to propose. We had only been going out for 6 months – wait, 6 months? Had it really been 6 months? It still didn’t seem the longest amount of time between dating and marrying – but it was only an engagement. We weren’t going to get married the very next day. And I did want to marry Michael; I guess he wanted to marry me too. I took a deep breath to prepare myself for his question and I gazed into his eyes deeply.
“Charlie?” he asked nervously.
“Yes?” I had to take another breath to steady myself. He copied my breathing technique and slowly produced a small blue box from his hands onto the table. As he opened it he asked the question that many women dream of hearing all their life and I was no exception.
“Will you marry me?” he asked, keeping it short and sweet – just like him.
“Yes,” I said and his face shone brighter than the Sun, “but,” I continued and he looked a little worried, “only if we keep my last name.” I saw all his anxiety disappear and he grinned again,
“Absolutely, anything you want, anything at all.” I laughed at his relief and leaned across the table to kiss him perfectly on the lips before he placed the gorgeous ring on my naked finger. The diamonds sparkled under the flickering candle light and it was there, on that warm summer’s evening, outside the famous Glassando’s, on a small round table that a promise of love was made between two people; a promise that they would never let each other go and that whatever may come their way they would cope – together.
So, Charlie is getting married! But of course she is keeping her last name – otherwise this whole legacy idea wouldn’t really work :P. Do you think Michael and Charlie will live a happily ever after? Can you hear the pitter patter of tiny baby feet?
I can’t. But that is because my mum is currently hoovering with a very noise vacuum cleaner. Auf Wiedersehen, as they say in Germany.