Auntie Dee is dying you see. She says it’s the best thing that’s ever happened. She loves life now. Everything is all turned up, she says, the colours and the fragrances. I wish this wasn’t happening because I don’t understand her any more. Sometimes at night I wonder if it has turned her life into a holiday, the sort where you commit to the joys of it because you know you’ll be home in a week, a holiday where you don’t take things for granted. She’s not so sick yet that she can’t get around. She wants to go to Mexico. Auntie Dee says she wants me to go with her, all the way to Mexico, for two weeks or three. I hate flying. She says we’re all dying and I should feel everything turned up like she does, like she should have all of her days. She says it’s the best thing but there must be a sadness only learning how to live when you’re at the end. She wants this for me. She’s always had this streak of pulling me into her misery.
Like when Buster died and she cried and cried and said my own dog wouldn’t be too far behind him. But mine lived much longer. Mine lived to a ripe old age and I couldn’t enjoy him so much once she’d said that and had me all worried. You’d think I’d have been prepared for my old dog dying when the time came, with all the worrying I did, but I wasn’t, no. She wants me to go to Mexico. She doesn’t have the ties she had before June and thinks I don’t either with my dog gone to Doggie Heaven. It’s different when you’re not dying. Life’s harder when you’re well. When you’re not dying you know you’re going to be around to suffer consequences.
Auntie Dee doesn’t worry about the plane. She did back in the day, oh yes she did! I don’t know what research she’s done on the airline or the hotel or the food. She says I should be more like she is now and that this is the way to be but I just find I’m worrying for two these days, her and me. I googled Mexico this morning. It looks beautiful unfortunately. What if we go and the plane’s fine and the hotel’s superb and the food’s divine? What if it’s everything you could wish for in life? That will do no good for Auntie Dee. It will do no good for me. It’s the best holidays that hurt the most when they’re over. If we have a beautiful time how could we say goodbye? How could I come back to this damp shit-hole?
James brought me in steak tonight. He knows I’m not eating. I never knew James could cook. I’ll miss him but two weeks isn’t long when you’re not dying. I’ll give Auntie Dee a quick buzz in a while and tell her about my day and give her my decision on the trip. I’ll tell her about the steak and I know what she’ll say. She’ll say, “Enjoy that, now. Enjoy.” I always tell myself steak is my favourite food, like green is my favourite colour. I think I settled on these things when I was little and there were no signs of endings.
Auntie Dee used to bring me to the playground and push me on the swing. I’d tell her to sit on the swing next to me and she’d be mortified. “No, no! I’m far too old!” And I’d say, “Never, ever, Auntie Dee! You’ll never be old to me!” I love boats. I’ll ring her and tell her I like the soothing rocking and the not-one-place-or-another-ness about them. Are there boats that sail to Mexico from here? She’ll ask me when I was last on a boat and she’s right. It’s the idea of being on a boat that I love. The idea of being between worlds and not having to worry about repercussions in one place or the other. The idea of floating.
Simon Webster is an Irish writer whose stories have appeared in many journals including Visual Verse, Ellipsis Zine and The Fiction Pool. He is also editor of The Cabinet Of Heed literary journal. Some of his shorter work can be found at mrsimonwebster.wordpress.com. You can follow him on Twitter @MrSimonWebster.