The fresh roses in my garden need the rain to fall, but the sun’s beaming down. I can see it through the misty windows. Feel it as I shuffle out through the front door—has the frame got smaller? The heat folds itself around me. I need a fag. The lounge chair feels further away today. The sun shines so bright these days. I hear my daughter’s steps on the dried-out grass and the patio before she sits by me.
“Have you moved these chairs?” I ask.
“No Dad,” she says, soft-like.
“I swear they used to be nearer the house. They’re too close to the edge, you might fall off one day.”
Spend most of my time complaining, these days. I can guess what she must think of me. But she never says it. Instead, she hands me an orange.
My nails dig into the rind. Wet perfume rises like a cloud around us. I stop peeling and leave everything in my lap. Its smell is enough. I don’t have much taste for life these days, not since Rob’s funeral sucker-punched everything right out of life. Every time I start thinking about it, hours turn into minutes and before I know it, Jess is clicking her fingers and saying “Hello, Earth to Dad?”. Focus and appetite have become impossible. I put things in my mouth and I’d as much spit them out as enjoy them. Jessie brings me things, Lambert and Butler’s and ice cream, usually. I try not to seem ungrateful. I am grateful. Jessie’s also got a cleaner coming here twice a week.
Jessie says she’s been thinking. I listen. I assume it’s about her job. Jessie’s a professional photographer which means she goes to a lot of weddings. I’m still waiting for the day she’s going to have a change of heart, choose a proper profession, one not so up and down. But it’s not. It’s about me. Again.
“Dad, I think we need to get your eyesight tested,” she clears her throat.
“Not this again,” I say, “look, I’m upset, I’m not blind.”
She books an appointment anyway. I go because I don’t have much of a choice. I’ve been in a blur ever since Rob. You don’t spend fifteen years with a dog without getting upset when they get lung cancer. Especially not my Rob.
The eye tests must be rigged because I can't see a thing. I get prescribed a pair of specs thicker than a pound coin. And a cane. I have a cataract in my left eye, which means I’ve been walking around in a blur.
I go home. I can’t believe how blue the sky is, how distinct from the golden fields. The grass is green, too, who knew? My roses need watering, and I get to it. The door frame is perfectly sized. God. And if Rob could see the size of the steak Jessie’s brought round for dinner, he’d be over the moon. We make steak sandwiches, warming the bread on the grill before spreading it with a thick layer of garlic, parsley and butter.
We eat them out, facing the sunset, cold beers in our hands. I can see the bubbles rise up to the surface. I’d forgotten you could see that. I start laughing, and Jessie turns to me in surprise, her chin shining with the grease dripping from her lips. She sits back, I’m so excited I can’t help but lean forward.
“Everything was so blurry before, I didn’t realise. Everything’s beautiful. I’ve never seen such a beautiful sunset.”
“Ha, enjoy it, Dad.”
“I will, lass.”
And I do.