She gazes into the bedroom mirror, her leathery hand slowly raking through thin, marble-white hair. Outside, the rain batters against her window, the branch of an old apple tree rattling the window`s rotting frame. She lets her arm fall down by her side, wincing at the half-remembered pain. What day did the young man say it was? There was something familiar about his face, the twinkling blue eyes, the overlong nose, the full, generous mouth, but for Martha it remains stubbornly out of reach. She turns from the mirror and sinks gratefully on to the unmade bed, her red-rimmed eyes taking in the vase of red roses siting on her dressing table. Had the young man brought them? She remembers his smile as he stood by the window, his blond locks glistening from the rain. She thinks he has been before but she cannot remember why. There is a lot she cannot remember now, a thick fog descending across her brain whenever she tries.
She bends forward, her face burying itself in the vase of roses. For a moment the sweet scent conjurers up a memory, a long, sweeping lawn, a tree by a window, a table laden with food, a child bowling a hoop down the gravelled path, a man, back bent, carrying a tray of drinks. She does not know the child or the man, only that an inner peace is wafting over her like a gentle, warming breeze at the memory. Then it is gone, the scene cruelly snatched from her, tears stinging her eyes as she sinks wearily back onto her pillow.
It is dark now, transient shadows flitting across the room, the only sound, the tap, tap of the tree branch as the wind squeezes through the ill-fitting window. On the bed she does not hear the tapping, nor feel the wind. On the dressing table the roses stand, their stems wilting, the vase now empty of water.
© Roger Woodcock