Saturday, 24 October 2009

MULTIPLY Wordsmiths Challenge #9: The End of the Dream

It all begun about a week ago, but it has been going on night for night and now she was afraid to close her eyes and succumb to sleep, but she was in a hospital bed. Her fight to hang on to the last threads of life was weakening day by day, but she had to live; live for her daughter’s sake.

“Here’s your medicine for the night” said the nurse as she entered the ward. “Don’t forget to take it, you will be able to sleep and that will do you good.”

“Thank you nurse” was the answer “just put it on the bedside table, I will take it later.”

“Ok Mrs. Buckingham, but don’t forget. It will ease your pain.”

The nurse left and Eliza Buckingham looked at the tablets thinking they might ease the pain, but they will not cure me.

The night came slowly and although Eiza did not want her sleep, she had to succumb and she closed her eyes, breathing regular deep breaths.

At the beginning the dream was harmless. She was walking on a wide path lined with poplar trees. She should have known then that the straight trees pointing upwards might have a meaning. The walk was somehow exciting; in her sleep she felt that there would be something good at the end. Some time during the night she awoke, but the walk was etched in her mind. The following night the dream reoccurred. She was still walking along the avenue but could see large wrought iron gates in the distance. Behind the gates there were thick mists. She was almost looking forward to leaving the long path and reaching the gates, being sure that there would be a surprise awaiting her.

Her daughter Sara paid her a visit on the next day. Sara knew that her mother’s days were numbered, medical science had not yet found a cure for her illness which seemed to be eating her mother away from inside.

“How are you keeping mum” she asked noticing her mother’s eyes which seemed to be surrounded by a grayish ring.

“I am ok dear” was the answer.

“Are you sleeping well, you look so tired.”

“Oh, you know when you are lying in bed all the time, sleep just comes and goes. No, no, I am all right. How are you and the boys? Has Jim found work yet?”.

Sara’s husband had lost his job when the company folded down. He was a good worker, but there were few opportunities to find something new at the present time. Eliza knew that her daughter and the family were having problems making ends meet. They had already sold their car and there was talk of selling their house.

“No mum, no job up to now, but we are managing. I have taken on a cleaning job to help a bit.”

Her daughter left and Eliza was thinking.

“If only I can hang on to life” knowing that when she reached the age of seventy, her daughter’s family would have a right to an insurance policy that she had been paying for. It was one of those policies with many clauses to it. It entitled her family, which would be Sara as the only daughter, to a lot of money when Eliza reached the age of seventy. If Eliza died in the meanwhile the money would be put in a trust fund for Sara’s children when they reached the age of twenty. Sara had twin boys, but they were still at school and Sara and her family could use the money now. Eliza’s seventieth birthday was some time soon, but Eliza knew her chances of survival were dwindling.

And the dream continued. Eliza was still on the path and the gates were closer. She saw what was behind the gates. Rows of stones and a large house in the center. Eliza awoke with a shock.

“No, please let is not be” she thought and she lay back in her bed exhausted, but not able to relax or sleep.

In the meanwhile Sara was becoming more concerned with her mother. She knew that she was dying, but she never imagined that she would look so bad. Her eyes were becoming darker and she looked as if she would not survive another night.

“Nurse, can’t we do anything to help my mother?”

“I wish we could, but we have done all possible. It is a miracle that she is still with us. It is as if she is hanging onto life with the little strength that she still has.

The nurse entered Eliza’s ward with her evening medicine once again.

“Nurse, can you tell me what today’s date is?”

“It is the 20th August Mrs. Buckingham. I believe it is your seventieth birthday tomorrow. I can see the date on your record sheet.”

“Tomorrow nurse. Thank you.”

And the nurse left the ward. Elisa put her tablets under the mattress as always. There was quite a collection there, but she did not want to be put in a false sleep. Perhaps she would not awake any more. “Just hold on until tomorrow” she thought.

That evening the dream was even more realistic. The stones behind the large iron gates were exactly what she was dreading, tombstones. She saw the name of her husband on a stone. She recognised his grave and moved towards it in her sleep. She awoke again with a shock when she saw that the grave was open, seeing the wooden lid of her husbands coffin below.

The next day arrived and again her daughter paid a visit. This time with her husband and her boys, but when she saw how her mother looked, she told the boys to wait outside.

“They are beautiful flowers you have brought me” said Elisa to her daughter and son-in law.

“Mother today you are seventy years old and you deserve the flowers for everything you have done for us.”

Eliza then spoke to her daughter.

“In my handbag at the side of the bed there is an envelope addressed to you. Please take this and promise it will only be opened when you receive news of my death. It will be soon, I can feel it, and I can at last join your father.”

“No mother, I won’t hear of such things.”

“Sara, take the envelope, it is my last wish and then please leave. I am not such good company for you both. Please do not be sad when I am gone.”

Sarah left with her husband and the boys. Her mother was looking so bad, that she had decided it was no sight for her sons to see.

That evening Eliza had her last dream. This time she wanted to sleep. She had reached her seventieth birthday, she was seventy years old and her daughter would receive the insurance money. She had put the insurance policy in the envelope some time ago. She closed her eyes for the last time and her dream came to an end as she felt herself leaving the last threads of life behind. She was gliding down into her husband’s open grave.

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