For Nigel, his wife and children
His green, unfocussed eyes drift aimlessly in search of a fixed horizon.
Imperceptibly, lukewarm beige tea eases effortlessly down the parched cascade landscape of his throat.
Slow motion eyelid shutters close then open, close then open, like a malfunctioning shop front at the end of the working day.
The setting orbs finally settle on the plate that has been placed before him.
He starts to count.
One slice of buttered brown toast for his marriage, two eggs for his children, and a raft of radiant beans in red coats for his years.
Lots of beans, too many beans left over. How many beans left to come, how many beans in this one big breakfast? Baked beans of uncertainty floating in the tomato sauce sea of time.
A bean abacus; he’s counting beans.
One of eight perfectly manicured fingertips traces the intersections of chequered lines on the left leg of his grey pyjamas. Multiple lines of the finest nap trickle between the less fine curves and swirls of his individual fingerprint – there will only ever be one of those; ever.
Unlike the lifelines he criss-crossed through the beans he’s expired.
Myriads of routes that took him to innumerable places along motorways, footpaths, cul-de-sacs, and runways.
They, and the corridor to his left brought him here. From that mystically distant yet tangible canal that breached him into the light, they brought him here. They all brought him here.
To this chair, by this bed, from where, behind shaded screens on yet another line, he called her and softly suggested she sit down too.