Exhausted I lugged the shopping bags into the kitchen mentally ticking it off the long list of errands and household chores I now completed all on my own since Greg no longer had the energy. In our usually empty house I was startled to find a dark haired woman wearing rubber gloves at my kitchen sink.
“Hey,” she smiled, “how does lasagne for dinner sound?”
I dropped the bags and began weeping openly. Water splashed over the floor and then loving arms locked me into a tight embrace.
“What’s this all about then?” Jane whispered.
“I’m sorry” I apologised, “It’s just that for months now I have been doing everything myself and not one person has offered to help me and I just don’t know how long I can keep doing it.”
“Oh sweetheart, it’s ok, I’m here now.”
Jane ran her hand up and down my back and I began to feel my sobs subside.
“Everybody keeps being polite and asking ‘How’s Greg?’ but then that’s it, they go back to their own lives thinking they’ve done their part like all Greg has is the flu or something, they have no idea what’s involved, what it’s like,” I said.
“I know, I know,” soothed Jane.
“It’s every day, every day, I can’t get away from it, it’s just a constant stream of things to do, I’m only 30 years old, it’s not supposed to be like this.”
Jane listened in silence as I vented three months of pent up frustration, dutifully nodding here and there as required, rubbing my back and shushing me whenever my sobs increased. Finally when there was nothing left but trickles of water running down my face Jane forced me to look at her.
“Here’s what’s going to happen,” Jane began in that familiar forceful motherly tone. “I’m going to move in for a while, just until Greg regains his strength and you’ve worked out a routine ok.”
“I can’t ask you to do that,” I protested but she was already waving her hand in my face to silence me.
“You didn’t ask, I offered, in fact I’m insisting, after all, that’s what big sisters are for so if you need something, anything, just ask.”
“Well in that case,” I said, “Can you take your gloves off? You’re getting me wet.”
Pretending to be offended Jane whipped off a glove and slapped me across the hip with it. Before long we were rolling around the floor in hysterics just like when we were kids.
The above was written in 2010 for a writing course assignment on dialogue. The intention was for it to form part of my debut novel about a young women coming to terms with her husband’s kidney disease diagnosis. I later decided it wouldn’t be my first novel, but it would be a story I would one day tell.