jmgoyder

wings and things

Imagined conversation 38

Me: Do you remember that trip to Balingup?

Anthony: And the oysters?

Me: Yes.

Anthony: I’ll never forget it.

Me: I’ll never forget it either. You were mobile and you easily walked out of the nursing home, and we easily got you into the car, and I easily drove you back through time to the place of your childhood.

Anthony: And the old pub, all done up.

Me: And it was a beautiful day.

Anthony: You were in a hurry.

Me: Yeah, but only because if I didn’t get you there soon enough – at least by noon – the timing might not work, the pills might not kick in, you might get that nervous constipation thing, or worse….

Anthony: Worse?

Me: The opposite.

Anthony: Oh you mean my penchant for pooing unexpectedly?

Me: Yeah, that and the whole panic thing, for me, and Ming too. You know like that time in the restaurant where Ming had to take you to the toilet and figure it out, and that other time – OMG – after the funeral when your nephew had to figure it out….

Anthony: Sorry about that, Jules. We didn’t know about adult nappies then did we – wonderful invention.

Me: I was always amazed by your lack of embarrassment – like you just took it all in your stride!

Anthony: What else could I do? My bowels stopped belonging to me.

Me: You see, that’s one of the things I most admire about you – the way you accepted it all. I would be dying of embarrassment for you and yet you’d always be so sort of ….

Anthony: Philosophical?

Me: Yes!

Anthony: And the point of this conversation is…?

Me: Oh, sorry, our back to Balingup outing. So it was only an hour’s drive but you began to visibly falter about ten minutes before I parked the car at the pub so I was doubtful as to whether I’d be able to get you out of the car and into the restaurant.

Anthony: You were so weak.

Me: What do you mean I was so weak? You were like a dead weight! I couldn’t even move you enough to get the stupid seat-belt off, and when I finally did, I couldn’t get your legs around enough to get you even close to getting out of the car, and when I finally did, I couldn’t get you to stand up, even with the walker.

Anthony: I kept wondering why you couldn’t do it.

Me: How could you not know how bloody heavy you were?

Anthony: Because I didn’t feel heavy to me? I was skinny.

Me: Argh, that again – always so proud of your washboards? You were teensy in the end – diminished!

Anthony: You want to say “pathetic” don’t you.

Me: What?

Anthony: I was pathetic. I know that now.

Me: Okay, you were pathetic, yes, but you were also heroic, and I wanted to take you to Balingup for lunch and such a simple thing became a kind of nightmare. When I couldn’t even get you out of the car, I rushed in to see if they might bring the food out to us and they said yes! And they even had oysters – fresh oysters – and I ordered two dozen.

Anthony: An unexpected delight….

Me: And you vacuumed down the first dozen so I rushed back in to ask for another dozen and they got served to the car!

Anthony: You’re a champion, Jules.

Me: Seeing you eat those oysters, and not having a toilet issue, equalled pure joy, Ants. And then, all of a sudden, it became urgent to get you back to the nursing home and all you wanted to do was stay in Balingup.

Anthony: I’ve never seen that trip back from your perspective until now.

Me: I was freaking out because you were slumping so badly and I was worried we’d overdone it. Plus how the hell was I going to get you out of the car and back into the nursing home when you were almost comatose on the way back?

Anthony: But you did it – we did it.

Me: Yes but at the time all I wanted to do was get away from you and the nursing home and get home and just be by myself, away from the horror of your incapacity, away from the bittersweet day, away from the overwhelming love-guilt I had for you.

Anthony: My memory is different; it was a wonderful day.

Me: Yes but it was also final, Ants.

Anthony: How so?

Me: Well, I didn’t know it then but it was the last time I ever took you out and I am so so sorry for this.

Anthony: Please don’t cry, Jules. I wouldn’t have bothered to take me out in the first place.

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Imagined conversation 34

Me: I failed the motorbike test yesterday.

Anthony: It’s okay, Jules. You can do it again.

Me: There is something fundamentally wrong with my brain when it comes to U-turns, Ants. The fear is like some sort of weird vice. Plus I am too fast – it’s like I am trying to rush into succeeding but I can’t help it!

Anthony: Well, you were always knee-jerk, Jules.

Me: That’s not fair, Ants! I don’t mean to be like that – I really am trying my best here.

Anthony: So why did the guy who took you for the test ask if you were part of the Peter Brock family?

Me: Because he was being sarcastic!

Anthony: Why are you in such a rush, Jules?

Me: I feel sort of desperate….

Anthony: Desperate for what?

Me: Something to do with your motorbikes maybe? Trying to keep up? Wanting to make you proud?

Anthony: I am already proud and always was.

Me: Of what?

Anthony: You!

Me: I wanted to ride a scooter again, reclaim my youth, honour your motorbike days, go fast fearlessly.

Anthony: Jules, you really need to bring your decades up to speed and stop living in the past. Why are you in such a hurry all the time?

Me: I don’t know. I just want to get everything over with. Or begin something new? Make myself into a new person? Make you proud? Be brave?

Anthony: Just STOP.

Me: Stop what?

Anthony: Everything, Jules.

Me: I can’t stop, Ants!

Anthony: You are not going to find me in those scooter wheels, Jules.

Me: Why?

Anthony: I was a Guzzi guy, remember?

Me: I am so pathetic.

Anthony: Not at all, Jules. D. and I just think it’s best if you stick to the car.

Me: Okay, Ants. I thought I was okay after failing the motorbike licence test but when I got home I just cried and cried and cried.

Anthony: Give it up, Jules.

Me: But I hate giving up, Ants!

Anthony: It takes a lot of courage to give up when you know that going on is futile.

Me: In that case, I give up!

 

 

 

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Imagined conversation 33

Me: I have another little surprise for you.

Anthony: Kill me softly.

Me: You really need to see the sarcasm therapist again. Anyway, one of my blog friends is an artist and she’s agreed to work with me on a book of our dialogues.

Anthony: She must be mad!

Me: No, she is really sane and she ‘gets’ you. She has already sent me examples of how she might draw you. And me. Our interactions. Before and after. And it’s perfect.

Anthony: Before and after what?

Me: Your death. Oh and by the way can you please let Marion know that he would be great for the role but I need actors who are actually still living.

Anthony: Noted.

Me: I think I have entered a new phase.

Anthony: Surprise me.

Me: You are dead and I am just conjuring you with these imagined conversations.

Anthony: I’m still with you, Jules.

Me: In my memory, in my consciousness, yeah, but you’re also gone and I am so sick of feeling so sad.

Anthony: So don’t feel sad.

Me: How?

Anthony: Write.

 

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Imagined conversation 31

Me: I haven’t wanted to talk to you lately.

Anthony: I noticed.

Me: Ever since talking to the headstone people I just kind of wanted to run away from the situation.

Anthony: What situation?

Me: Your death.

Anthony: Oh, that – yes.

Me: I’ve gone past the nursing home a few times now, on my motorbike lessons, and it always gives me a bit of a jolt. I saw a photo of you and C. at the nursing home and it shocked me to know that was only months before you died. I keep wanting to see you; it’s horrible, like a yawn of yearning. I’m not trying to be poetic either – it feels like the middle of me is doing this yawwwwwwn thing all the time.

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Anthony: Am I boring you?

Me: Very funny, not. Not that kind of yawn – the kind where you need more oxygen. Isn’t that what a yawn is?

Anthony: [Silence]

Me: And then a gaspy thing happens and I can breathe again and then, finally, I can cry.

Anthony: Why do you want to cry?

Me: I don’t want to cry really but sometimes when I nearly cry and the tears don’t come I feel like forcing it.

Anthony: I’m listening.

Me: Other times one of your favourite songs comes on the car radio and crying just happens. It happened earlier today.

Anthony: I’m sorry I left you in the lurch, Jules.

Me: Sometimes I wish I hadn’t loved you so much. I let you mean too much, Ants – you had become my whole world. Maybe that wasn’t healthy, maybe that’s why I feel so lost now without you.

Anthony: Jules, do you realise what rubbish you are talking? Look at all of the things you are accomplishing now – the motorbike licence, the kayak lessons, the film script idea, helping Ming with his psychology diploma, the volunteering. You are not lost without me.

Me: I feel physically sick, like I am going to vomit, a lot of the time.

Anthony: But you’re free now, Jules. You should make the most of it.

Me: How? Anyway, I never wanted to be free of you!

Anthony: Never?

Me: Not once and I’m pretty sure I’m being honest here.

Anthony: I ended up needing you too much didn’t I.

Me: Sort of. Yeah, okay, I didn’t like that feeling of being so needed I guess.

Anthony: You just need to get your strength back, Jules. Do some aerobic exercise. It does wonders for the body and soul.

Me: WHAAT?

Anthony: Swimming, cycling – keep it up, Jules. Don’t give up – oh and the meditation is also useful.

Me: [Silence]

Anthony: I’ve shocked you, haven’t I.

Me: Yes! Are you being tongue-in-cheek or genuine? Meditation? I can’t believe that word actually came out of your cynical mouth.

Anthony: OM

Me: OM?

Anthony: Feeling better yet?

Me: Actually, yes.

Anthony: All right, so, whenever you don’t feel like talking to me, just OM me and I’ll OM you back.

Me: OM?

Anthony: OMMMMMMMMMM

Me: [Laughing]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Imagined conversation 29

Anthony: Can’t you sleep?

Me: No, it’s the third time in a week. I mean it’s still only midnight but the last couple of times, it was almost 4am before I felt tired enough to go to bed.

Anthony: That’s no good, Jules.

Me: I don’t really mind. It’s not anxiety or anything. I guess I’ll just watch Netflix.

Anthony: You like your thrillers don’t you.

Me: Yep.

Anthony: Well don’t stay up too late or you’ll look haggard when you get up.

Me: Haggard? What do you mean by haggard!

Anthony: I overheard you talking to your mother about how you were worried about looking so haggard after my demise.

Me: Yeah, but I was telling her that my phase of worrying about looking haggard was over and now that I don’t worry about it, I don’t seem to look haggard anymore – weird. See, here is me with A. today. I don’t look so bad after all. I don’t even mind the wrinkles now.

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Anthony: Well, the kid’s cute. He suits you. Maybe you should have another baby.

Me: Droll.

Anthony: Do you ever wish we’d had another one?

Me: Every now and then but Ming is enough.

Anthony: My thoughts exactly.

Me: He is pretty wonderful. The other day he said to me, “Hey, Mum, let’s have another look at you,” as I was heading out. So I turned back and he said, “You look great!”

Anthony: Sounds like the kind of thing I would say.

Me: He says that kind of thing every single day.

Anthony: Are you sure all this vanity is good for you?

Me: Well it beats the hell out of running, panic-stricken, away from the bathroom mirror.

Anthony: I notice you haven’t replace the fluorescent light in there.

Me: Mmmm.

Anthony: Don’t forget all the complimentary things I said to you, will you.

Me: Like….?

Anthony: I recall calling you a gorgeous creature more than once.

Me: Not sure about the creature bit.

Anthony: You know what I mean.

Me: I sometimes miss the way you lit up when I arrived at the nursing home.

Anthony: Now you’re really flattering yourself.

Me: But you did! Even the nurses said so.

Anthony: I put a lot of effort into that.

Me: What rot. You were overjoyed every time and you’d always think that it was magic, and that you’d somehow conjured me up.

Anthony: Poor old fool.

Me: No, you were a beautiful old fool.

Anthony: Thanks.

Me: You know what I mean.

Anthony: One thing though….

Me: Yes?

Anthony: You do need lipstick.

Me: OMG, the feminists will be onto you.

Anthony: But it’s true.

Me: I’ll have to ponder that.

Anthony: Do that. Pondering is something I’ve become quite good at and I think you’d like it.

Me: That’s quite profound actually, Ants.

Anthony: I ponder to please.

Me: (Smiling)

 

 

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Imagined conversation 28

Me: You know that guy I was telling you about – the one in the nursing home who reminds me of you?

Anthony: You mean my nursing home?

Me: No, I can’t bring myself to go back there – yet. I’m talking about the nursing home where I volunteer.

Anthony: So who’s the guy?

Me: His name is K. and I thought he was around your age but one of the nurses told me he was 97!

Anthony: And he reminds you of me?

Me: Yes. It’s uncanny!

Anthony: Thanks a lot. Such a wonderful compliment – not.

Me: Well he doesn’t look a day over 81, Ants. Sorry. He’s got the same starey eyes and the same slow smile; he even seems to have a wittiness like yours. When I asked him how he was the other day, he said he was 150 years old. It was just like the kind of thing you used to say – so funny.

Anthony: Is he sexy like me?

Me: No, for God’s sake, Anthony. Don’t be so ridiculous!

Anthony: Well, I was just wondering.

Me: He’s crazy about Pip.

Anthony: That’s all right – as long as he isn’t crazy about you.

Me: I told him about you dying and he said his wife had died too and we had a bit of a sad moment.

Anthony: You do realise that I’m not 81 anymore, don’t you.

Me: How does that work?

Anthony: Not sure but I feel extraordinary well.

Me: That makes my heart get all warm and toasty. Remember how you used to say that?

Anthony: Plagiarism!

Me: The other day, P. said I should find another beau.

Anthony: What?

Me: Don’t worry, I told him that I’d had the best and there was no topping that.

Anthony: You can tell P. from me to bugger off.

Me: I’ll be more polite.

Anthony: You can quote me on that, Jules, with my blessing.

Me: Oh, so I say, “By the way, P., Anthony told me to tell you to bugger off with his blessing.”

Anthony: That sounds about right.

Me: He won’t believe that I was talking with you.

Anthony: That’s his problem. Anyway back to the old chap, K., if he’s 97 he must be pretty close to the end.

Me: Yeah, he doesn’t look so wonderful.

Anthony: Shake his hand for me.

Me: Why?

Anthony: It seems like a reasonable thing to do.

Me: Okay, I’ll do that. I think he’ll understand.

Anthony: He will. Tell him I’ll keep an eye out for him when the time comes.

Me: Wow, that’s nice of you.

Anthony: You seem to have forgotten what a splendidly marvellous person I am.

Me: I haven’t forgotten.

Anthony: That’s good then.

Me: G’night, Ants.

Anthony: G’night, Jules.

Me: I adore you.

Anthony: Perfectly understandable.

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Imagined conversation 27

Me: You know these conversations that we’re having?

Anthony: Yes, I do.

Me: They’re rather wonderful aren’t they.

Anthony: They certainly help to pass the time of day.

Me: Master of the understatement aren’t you.

Anthony: I try.

Me: What I like best is that you don’t have dementia anymore.

Anthony: What are you talking about? I never had dementia.

Me: Well, okay, you must have forgotten.

Anthony: You talk a lot of rubbish sometimes.

Me: That’s what I used to say to you – kindly.

Anthony: What’s your point?

Me: It almost feels like we are time travelling backwards and a bit forwards but mostly backwards. In a good way. I’m remembering all sorts of things – conversations and your wit.

Anthony: I like to have my wits turned on.

Me: You never really lost that did you.

Anthony: I never really lost anything actually.

Me: Sometimes, when you said really crazy things, I used to think maybe you were pulling my leg.

Anthony: I was.

Me: No you weren’t.

Anthony: Have it your way.

Me: No need to get huffy.

Anthony: I’m not but I don’t like you saying I had dementia. Horrible word.

Me: But you did have it. I just never told you.

Anthony: Well maybe a little bit.

Me: No, a lot.

Anthony: Bull.

Me: I thought heavenly creatures like you basked in the truth.

Anthony: I’d rather do a dare.

Me: Okay, I dare you to acknowledge that you had dementia.

Anthony: Entrapped. Okay, okay, you got me.

Me: I thought it was fantastic that you didn’t know.

Anthony: A blessing in disguise?

Me: Exactly.

Anthony: It must have been hard on you.

Me: I guess so, to begin with, but I got used to it. I got used to you with dementia. It didn’t scare me at all but it probably would have scared you if you knew.

Anthony: It was bloody beautiful of you not to tell me.

Me: Remember how you would get confused and I would reassure you that it was just the Parkinson’s disease?

Anthony: Yes.

Me: Well that was instead of telling you it was dementia.

Anthony: I heard you tell someone the other day that we made friends with dementia. Clever.

Me: That’s what it felt like. It was sort of whimsical and we even had fun with it.

Anthony: With what?

Me: With the dementia. In retrospect.

Anthony: If you say so.

Me: Come on. Admit it.

Anthony: Okay. Yes, you’re right. I’m so sorry, Jules. It must have been ghastly.

Me: No, it wasn’t. It was still you.

Anthony: It’s good what we have isn’t it.

Me: It’s the best thing on earth.

Anthony: And in heaven.

Me: Bloody hell! Okay, Amen.

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Anthony: Amen.

 

 

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Imagined conversation 26

Anthony: What’s with all the new clothes?

Me: Retail therapy.

Anthony: What’s that supposed to be?

Me: Forget it. You wouldn’t understand.

Anthony: I like it. You’re looking particularly well groomed these days.

Me: Why thank you, kind sir.

Anthony: Stylish even. You’d be a knockout if you wore higher heels.

Me: Oh for God’s sake, you can forget that.

Anthony: The red boots are, well, they’re very red aren’t they.

Me: So? I bought them before you died but I never got to show you so every time I wear them I feel a bit of a pang of disappointment.

Anthony: They look good, Jules, I’m only teasing.

Me: I kind of bought them for you actually, indirectly.

Anthony: A likely story.

Me: No, really. I used to like the way you liked the way I love my boots.

Anthony: You definitely have a fetish for them.

Me: Not so much now.

Anthony: Isn’t it about time you bought some new ones?

Me: What? I can’t believe you’re encouraging me to spend money.

Anthony: You can use my money. I don’t need it any more.

Me: Wow, you’ve changed. What happened to the tightwad I married?

Anthony: He turned into a butterfly.

Me (laughing): You crack me up, Ants. Okay, well I don’t need much encouragement so what colour do you suggest?

Anthony: Purple and white polka-dots?

Me: You are insane!

Anthony: Why not?

Me: I’ll google it. Ah here we go. What do you think?

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Anthony: Not bad. What do they cost?

Me: Let me see … $5,200.

Anthony: [Pause]

Me: Are you there?

Anthony: I’m in shock.

Me: Yes, so am I so don’t panic. I’m not that self-indulgent and I can’t imagine who is. Okay, how about these?

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Anthony: How much?

Me: Around $40. But they’re gumboots.

Anthony: They really are ‘you’ though, aren’t they.

Me: You think?

Anthony: Different.

Me: Are you sure?

Anthony: Why not?

Me: Thanks but I’m really very tempted by the first pair – the more I look at them….

Anthony: Jules, come on.

Me: You are so gullible.

Anthony: I’ve broken into a sweat.

Me: I bet!  I wish I could buy you something – anything, even a slice of black forest cake or a dozen oysters.

Anthony: Plenty of that here.

Me: Really? Oh, of course. I know, but I used to love buying you presents and treats and stuff.

Anthony: You’re too generous.

Me: It was fun.

Anthony: Tell you what, buy the gumboots for me. Indirectly.

Me: Sold!

Anthony: You’re a burster, Jules.

Me: I can’t believe purple and white polka-dot boots even exist. How could you have possibly known?

Anthony: I’ve become a fan of google too.

Me: Now I really am shocked! But you don’t even know how to turn a computer on.

Anthony: I do now. I’m one step ahead of you. Now buy the boots. Right now.

Me: Your wish is my command. Thanks, Ants – this is so enjoyable!

Anthony: It is, isn’t it.

 

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Imagined conversation 25

Anthony: That was very funny.

Me: What was very funny?

Anthony: Your kayaking lesson today, with Ming.

Me: OMG were you watching? How embarrassing.

Anthony: Quite.

Me: The capsize?

Anthony: Is that what you call it?

Me: Yes, well another fear faced and conquered.

Anthony: You made it look so easy, Jules.

Me: Sarcasm just slides off your tongue doesn’t it, Ants.

Anthony: I’ve been busy perfecting the art.

Me: Did you see Ming do it too?

Anthony: His movements were much more fluid.

Me: But did you see when he accidentally fell in for the second time?

Anthony: Yes but I was mainly concentrating on your laughter.

Me: Oh?

Anthony: That was a beautiful thing to see – spectacular.

Me: Well, thanks, I think.

Anthony: It’s a long time since I’ve heard that guffaw of yours –  so raucous.

Me: Is that a good or a bad thing?

Anthony: It’s a great thing. You should do it more often.

Me: I can’t just conjure it up.

Ants: Yes you can. Remember the time you tried to get me to do aerobics with you to that Jane Fonda video?

Me (smiling): Oh yeah, you were so awkward.

Anthony: You thought it might stop the Parkinson’s in its tracks.

Me: Stupid idea and it didn’t work. Hey, but remember that time I fell in the duck pond? That’s what it felt like today.

Anthony: How could I forget?

Me: You were so unsympathetic.

Anthony: The look of shock on your face … priceless.

Me: The good old days.

Anthony: The good-to-remember old days.

Me: I’m going for my motor-bike licence next week.

Anthony: I know and I am trembling at the thought.

Me: You’re trembling! What do you think I’m doing?

Anthony: Quaking?

Me: Not sure why I took on these two new challenges simultaneously. I must be mad!

Anthony: My thoughts exactly, and Ming’s too I’ve noticed. And both of your instructors’.

Me: Common sense isn’t my forte.

Anthony: Neither is coordination. I heard what Ming said while you were driving to the river, by the way.

Me: He didn’t mean it, Ants. And, by the way, my coordination is improving!

Anthony: Yes he did and he’s right. I wasn’t exactly father of the century. I should have talked to him more, or listened.

Me: He just wishes he knew you when you were well. Some of the stories I tell about you, from before his time, he finds almost unbelievable.

Anthony: I liked what he said about me still being around through him.

Me: Yeah, it’s pretty disconcerting – his voice, mannerisms, gait, laugh; he’s like a clone of you!

Anthony: Is that a good or a bad thing?

Me: It’s a great thing! I just wish he remembered how you were before you got so ill.

Anthony: There are worse things. Anyway you’re doing a great job of giving him amazing memories for when you die.

Me: What? Don’t be so morbid!

Anthony: Like the vision of you capsizing in your kayak today. Unforgettable.

Me: Shut up.

Anthony: Just a thought.

Me: Argh!

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Imagined conversation 24

Me: Tomorrow it’ll be exactly eight months since you died.

Anthony: I notice you haven’t been talking to me as much lately.

Me: I know. Sorry, I’ve been busy – really busy.

Anthony: That’s good, Jules and no need to apologise.

Me: I’m not over you or anything like that but the grief seems to have eased up a bit.

Anthony: Don’t forget me though.

Me: That would be absolutely impossible. I live in your house.

Anthony: Our house.

Me: Okay, our house but actually, technically, it’s still just your house because we never got around to the whole joint ownership thing. Your estate is still being sorted and then it’ll actually be my house – so weird.

Anthony: Yes.

Me: Everything here reminds me of you.

Anthony: That’s as it should be.

Me: Ha! That ghastly pink enamel teapot that doesn’t match the red Aga … little things like that remind me of you.

Anthony: You’re not going to sell up are you?

Me: No, of course not. It would break your heart wouldn’t it?

Anthony: I have a slightly different perspective on that now.

Me: I guess I do too. This place stopped meaning as much to me when you went into the nursing home.

Anthony: And now?

Me: Well, nothing really means as much to me now. I put on those boots you gave me today – you know the long ones with black rubber feet and brown leather up to the knees? I wanted to come straight into the nursing home to show them off to you with my new jeans and jacket and then I felt a bit sick when I remembered. That hasn’t happened for awhile.

Anthony: So what did you do?

Me: I got dressed up anyway.

Anthony: That’s my Julie.

Me: I don’t think I should sell up. Ming loves it here.

Anthony: You don’t have to decide yet do you?

Me: No.

Anthony: You sound low.

Me: Not really – just getting used to this gentle grief. I kind of miss the searing grief; it’s more solid.

Anthony: Can’t help you there, Jules.

Me: Do you miss me?

Anthony: Yes, it’s kind of boring here without you.

Me: Same here.

Anthony: I think you are absolutely marvellous, Jules.

Me: Where did that come from?

Anthony: Straight from the heart.

Me: It’s so strange to love someone so much when the person is dead.

Anthony: Who’s that then?

Me: You, you idiot!

Anthony: But I’m still here.

Me: I know that but I just wish I knew where here was.

Anthony: Here is here.

Me: Okay – so you are here, and here is here. Thanks, Ants.

Anthony: You’re welcome. Oh, and Jules?

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Me: Yes, Ants?

Anthony: You won’t get rid of that teapot will you?

Me: No way!

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