Margie slowly opened her eyes. The curtains were pulled back and she could see a rectangle of grey sky criss crossed by the window frame. Gradually she moved her gaze round to the familiar picture of two little boys looking out of a window. They had their backs to to camera yet it was clear that the bigger one was saying something to the other.
She wondered what they could see. Perhaps some bird or insect. A spider in it’s web. Or perhaps a car had caught their attention. Workmen. Or other children playing in the street.
Playing in the street. Yes, that’s what children used to do. Something told her it didn’t happen any more. But she wasn’t sure how she knew that. Roller skates, hula hoops and skipping ropes. That’s what they used to play. And yo-yos. Yes, she could remember a blue yo-yo. And before that. A red and yellow one.
It was all a very long time ago. Before the boys in the picture were born. She knew who they were. Couldn’t quite bring it to mind at present, but she did know. The names would come back to her; they always did. She might even remember how she knew them.
It was a nice photo, anyway. She liked looking at it. Liked to wonder what they saw from their window. It had to be better than her view of grey sky.
Slowly she pulled herself into a sitting position, pushed back the covers and tried to put her feet on the floor.
“What are you doing, Margie? Do you need the bathroom?” It was one of them, Standing in the doorway. She sank back against the pillows.
Grey sky. The picture. The boys appeared to be looking down from an upstairs window. They were standing with their hands on the window sill. If she could stand up, she might see something other than sky. She pulled herself into a sitting position, pushed back the covers. And paused for a while. Then slowly she began to shuffle towards the edge of the bed.
“OK, Margie. Hang on a moment, Love.” The voice didn’t belong with her thoughts. She stopped moving, confused. Perhaps she wasn’t supposed to get out of bed? Mum had told her off for getting out of bed when she had measles. She only wanted to get her rag doll from the chest to tuck under the bedclothes with her. But Mum had come into the room and caught her half way across the floor.
If she was too ill to go to school then she was too ill to play, she had been told.
But she wasn’t ill now, was she? It was wearing trying to puzzle things out. She laid back. “Right, Margie, Come on then.” The woman was in the room now, coming towards her. “Just look at you! What are you doing?” What was she doing? Trying to look out of the window. Yes, that was it. She wanted to see what was outside. She tried to form the answer into words but the woman didn’t wait. “OK, Up you come.” She took hold of Margie’s hands and pulled her up. “That’s it. Let’s get your slippers on.”
Margie was on her feet but she still couldn’t see out of the window because the woman was in the way. She took hold of Margie’s shoulders and turned her away. “Come on. The bathroom’s over this way.” Bathroom? What did the bathroom have to do with anything? But it was too much effort to protest. Much easier to simply humour her so she slowly put one foot in front of the other in the direction she was steered.
Back in bed and left in peace. What a relief. She was so tired. Why? Why was she so tired? She’d been doing something strenuous, that was it. Couldn’t quite remember what it was but it took all her energy. Mustn’t over do things. That’s what David kept telling her. Mustn’t over do things.
David. David. That name meant something. Didn’t she know someone called David?
Margie opened her eyes. There was a picture standing on her chest. Where had that come from? Who had put it there? One of the boys was telling his brother, “That dog’s called Ben.” She frowned; the dog wasn’t in the picture. How did she know what David was saying?
She pushed herself up on one elbow. She needed to look out of the window. Gradually she managed to move until she was sitting on the edge of the bed facing the window. There was a large tree out there. She didn’t remember a large tree. Where had that come from? How would it fit in the small garden? The boys couldn’t be looking at the tree; it was too high. They were looking down.
David. She would ask David. He would know. She sat there a bit longer then contrived to stand up and move closer to the window. It looked out on to a car park. That wasn’t right. Why was there a car park under her bedroom window? She was still standing pondering the matter when she became aware of someone behind her.
A man’s voice. Familiar, pleasant. Warm and yet tinged with something. Not fear exactly. Apprehension? She’d heard that voice before and was annoyed that she couldn’t immediately place who it belonged to. “What are you doing?” he asked.
He had come closer. She turned and saw a strange man reaching out to touch her. “Who are you?” she asked sharply. “Why are you here?”
“I’ve come to see you, Mum. Why don’t you get back into bed – you’re getting cold.”
Cold. Yes, it was cold. The sun wasn’t shining and everything looked grey. She allowed herself to be led back to bed, lay back on her pillows and pulled the covers up to her chin, shutting her eyes and savouring the warmth and comfort. Images drifted across her mind. Two little boys looking out of the window.
“I don’t know, Mum. Who is Ben?”
Ben? Who is Ben? Margie couldn’t think of anyone called Ben. She’d have to ask David, Yes, David would know.
“I’ll ask David, “ she said.
“Mum,” She recognised what she heard in that voice now. It was exasperation. “Mum, I am David.”
“Are you? You’re David? My David?”
“Yes Mum, I’m you’re son, David.”
“That’s nice, dear, He’s such a lovely boy. Look, I’ve got a picture.”