My girlfriend is building a wall. She’s taking her time, and adding each course of bricks very slowly, but one day the wall will be complete and impenetrable. She’s doing a good job of it too.
I get home from work one day and I’m tired. She sees this and pounces. “When are you going to tell your mother that she’s not welcome in the spare room any more?” “Please,” I ask, “we talked about this before. I’m so tired.” I take my shoes off, unbutton my belt and lie on the rug. My eyes feel like they’re full of sand and they begin to shut involuntarily. I’m just about to drift off.
“So, you’re saying that your nap is more important than our happiness?”
“No, I’m saying that we have to wait until there’s a place in the nursing home. We just have to wait.”
She stomps down the corridor. I can feel her heavy steps through the timber frame of the house. She’s putting another course of bricks on the wall.
Later, at the dinner table she apologises to me in front of my mum. “I’m sorry about before. You’re right, we should wait before we tell your mother the bad news.” Mum looks up from her spoonful of boiled peas – first at my girlfriend, then at me. Without a word her eyes are saying it all. What bad news?
“Mum, we’ve been looking at nursing homes.” Mum’s shoulders sag, but she knew it was coming. It’s a mother’s intuition. “I’d like to show you the one that we chose because I think it’s really good. I was eventually going to ask you to come and have a look so you can tell me what you think.” My girlfriend butts in.
“So, you’re saying that if she doesn’t like it, then she won’t be moving out?”
I look into my mum’s eyes. She’s willing to accept my verdict. I NEED to say yes for the woman that raised me.
I look over at my girlfriend. She’s glaring at me. If I say yes, who knows what will happen next? She’s just put another course of bricks in her wall.
I clutch the table cloth. I release it. I can’t stand to look at either of the women I care about. “I don’t know!” I jump up and storm off. A few peas fall off the table – their tiny thuds breaking the silence.
I haven’t talked to mum since last night. I can’t stand the feeling of guilt. I haven’t talked to my girlfriend either. She comes to put another course on the wall. “After the argument last night,” she begins, “I don’t think we can all live together under this roof. There’s a spot at the nursing home on the other side of town. I think you need to take the opportunity.”
“I really want mum to be involved in the decisi-” She cuts me off.
“So, you’re saying that you’re going to bend over for the woman who’s the cause of all your problems?”
“No.” I say it clearly and decisively. She hears what she wanted to hear and her wall is complete. She just laid the final course. I can see the glee in her thin, black eyes. I try to clarify.
“So, I’m saying is that I’m not going to bend over for the woman who’s the cause of all my problems. That woman is YOU!”
Her wall crumbles.
“Have you somewhere to stay?” I ask. “I hear there’s a great place on the other side of town.”