The garden drinks deep as it must when rain falls, a goodly rain, one that isn’t just a wheech of drops that barely land at all. I can see the flowers, the shrubs and the trees looking up, hopefully. Not enough, they say and I agree and then yesterday their looking and pleading brought the clouds to compassion which is an achievement when you know clouds. They are crabbit creatures, no, not just crabbit. It must be a big responsibility to have the remit of collecting droplets from myriad bodies of water and such a relief to dump what you have have been carrying for ages, as it is a relief for one of us to lay down our long held baggage. It thinks me and asks me this:- what baggage can you lay down you island wife? Well, where do I begin with all my guilt and shame and regret and failures?
Ach wheesht, come the clouds back. You think you are special or something?
Well, no, I say, a tad humbled. I was just saying.
Don’t say. Do!
Okay, I reply, hesitantly as I lay down my ‘Special’ fixation. It was quite heavy, although that is an oxymoron. Something cannot be ‘quite’ heavy. It is either heavy or it is light and the prefix ‘quite’ means absolutely nothing. It is a sort of burble, a mumble word in such a grammatical position. I could say, should someone ask me if this child is alike to his mother, Well, he is quite like her, thus meaning not exactly, but as a prefix it says nothing about the thing and everything about the person busy oxymoroning. Just saying.
Then I ferret about for other baggage. Regret. Hmmm. Describe that. I cannot. So I lay it down. I am beginning to feel light about the ankles, flexing, able to move more easily.
Shame. At what? Oh, well, at, er, at my past behaviours? I make a mistake turning this into a question. I am now at the mercy of the cloud response. One of them does, the big Payne’s Grey one with a truckload of wet just about to head earthwards. He looks like my dad in a fury. Are those past behaviours still an active choice in your present?
I resist the urge to remind him that, by definition, my present and his are the same. No, I say, firmly.
Lay it down, he barks, and then barfs rain.
Guilt. List your crimes, says the softer cloud butting up against the empty Payne’s Grey, now shredding into whisps. She says it gently. I wonder if she has some of her own to consider. She sounds empathetic.
At my choices, the things I sometimes say that hurt another.
Can you make amends? She asks. I like her voice. It’s warm like melted cheese.
Yes, I say. I already did.
Then lay it down.
I am now almost able to fly I am so light. The sky is clearing and so is my scurrilous brain.
Failures. She is still with me, the melted cheese cloud, but there is another big fat grey one right up her aspidistra. She sighs and moves on. I wait.
What failures? he asks, not aggressive despite his load.
Oh, general failures.
Is that a military title? he asks then guffaws. I roll my eyes and say nothing. There are jokers everywhere. Go on, he says, once he recovers from his obvious cloud brilliance.
Well, I wasn’t the mother I planned to be.
Who is? he says, having not a clue about what being a mother means, but I go with it and bend to lay that one down.
Next? he asks.
I could have been kinder to my husband, particularly as he folded into dementia.
Well, he says, it is too late now. Lay it down. Is that it?
Pretty much. Now here is another nonsense response. Not quite an oxymoron, more just moron.
Move on, he says, as another cloud butts up against him.
Just Move on.
And I do.