What Would Alan Do? by Brian Weston

She is going to kill me with her cooking. The smell of hot cooking fat wafts into the front room. I would be sick if there was anything in my stomach that could fulfil that request. 

"I'm doing myself a fried egg. Do you want one?" She shouts. 

"No thanks." 

"But you haven't eaten in days. You should try something." 

"I had that cracker yesterday and look what happened with that! No, I'm ok with my water thanks." 

I can feel her shaking her head in disgust in the kitchen. As if she actually cares about me. I would rather she didn't come with me to the hospital. She says, "Well if I don't come you don’t listen to what the doctors are telling you. You come home and you can never remember what they said to you." 

I feel like a burden. 

I have been getting through this strange pandemic, post-apocalyptic time by watching Alan Bennett’s "Talking Heads". The man is a genius. These normal people. Mostly in normal situations. Apart from the one when the neighbour was murdered. They are just brilliant. Just how he evokes so much emotion with just one person on screen. The language, the words he uses. It is so clever. Magical. He really is a magician, he really is. I did love the one about the murdered neighbour. "Nights in the Garden in Spain" I felt a real empathy towards Rosemary. There was one line "Thirty years of marriage and you think you’ve got somebody all weighed up, but no." really touched a nerve with me for some reason. Don’t know why? Since being sick I have become very emotional. I normally end each episode in tears. She just tuts at me "It's just a tv programme." 

She doesn't understand. 

One side effect of my illness has been not sleeping. I have naps. But a full night’s sleep is a thing of the past. I lie there wide-awake thinking about things. Thinking about life. Happy times. Sad times. What I have done. What I should have done. The things I should not have done. Why is it you only realise your life is full of regrets when it is too late? Thinking can be a lonely pastime. 

I shuffle downstairs so I do not wake her up with my tossing and turning. Sometimes I do not think she even knows if I am there or not. Sometimes I think she does not care if I am there or not. Sometimes? Most of the time. The other night she left her phone downstairs. Sat with my dark despairing thoughts the screen illuminated the darkened room as she received a text message. It was from her work colleague Rajip. "That’s very late?” I thought. “Wonder if it is an emergency at work?" 

Luckily, she had given me her pin in a moment of weakness months ago. 

After finishing her egg, she storms into the front room "Right let’s get this over and done with." I look at her like a sulky child being told to go to bed. Not ready to leave the safety of the front room. Scared. 

"The sooner we get to the hospital the sooner we know." Looking at her I think to myself. "What would Alan do?" The actor would probably be staring straight down the camera. His face contorted with emotion. "Well I told her. You don't have to come to the hospital with me anymore. I know. I know everything. I read the text messages from Rajip. I know you are just waiting to see if it is terminal. Before you go and start your new life. Well you no longer need to wait. Pack your things and go. I will be fine. Perhaps you could send me a text message when you are with Rajip." The actors voice would finally start to break as he says, "When you are with Rajip". The camera would pan out at this poor brave soul, sitting there, heartbroken. 

But I am not Alan. I am just a fan. A very sad fan. I hate her for what she has done and what she is about to do. I really hate her so much. The problem is. I love her more. I pull my aching, breaking body out of the chair. "Come on, let's get going then. We don't want to miss the bus." 

Published in Issue #16

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