Just wonka, p.1
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       Just Wonka, p.1
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Just Wonka

  Copyright 2014 Madeleine Masterson

  The promise of a good hot summer hung over us. Will it be or won’t it be, and if it is what about my legs. The legs in question had not been exposed really for many a long year, and now the only publicity they could expect was up at the swimming baths where hopefully no one knew me. Even better, no one could recognise me, once safely immersed in the just off freezing water, I did my lengths, up down, up down, scowling at swimmers in my path.

  ‘You weren’t rude were you?’ quizzed Wonka when I jollied back in, feeling fit and attractive, sporty even. ‘Only a couple of times….’ I retreated to the hankie sized kitchen in search of something sweet, something savoury and something to cram into my mouth right now. This turned out to be a bar of chocolate waiting for me in the fruit bowl. Yes there were apples and oranges and some speckled bananas there too. The chocolate shored up the groaning place in my tummy though. I opened several pouches of you can’t believe it’s so good for Wonka who ignored the lot and chased the beam of sunlight thrown round the room by my watch instead. It was Dad’s old watch and I had to wear it like I was carting him around with me. There were other watches, a mickey mouse one (this is a purchase made over and over again to bring back the one from childhood), a gold one (from my Grandma which I wore until someone pointed out it was terribly expensive and should I be washing up in it) and one I got from some catalogue for free. The watch collection, including my Grandad’s pocket watch, came to four then.

  ‘That’s three too many’ piped up Wonka, keen to have me de-cluttering and thereby psychologically ‘cleaning up’. Not that he believed overmuch in that claptrap as he called it, it was more of a practical gesture freeing us up for more of the things we did need. ‘Like?’ I said to him, pretty sure I could not give two of the watches away.

  ‘I need a cat toy’ he announced ‘now I am alone.’

  Yes it was just Wonka and I did worry about the lone cat thing. I mean the fact that I managed perfectly well without the interference of a good companion, or even worse a mate, didn’t mean it was good for him. They don’t have sites for lonely cats and as I well knew the ones for humans had failed me. Or had I just given up? Pondering on our aloneness I wondered if I was having a relationship clear out as opposed to things. With Dad clinging onto my wrist in the shape of a watch, my ring clinging onto me as a relic of an old marriage, and brooches either from my daughter or Mum I seemed to be hauling a lot of family around with me. Had Shakespeare been writing today, after finishing the Sopranos he would have been at my door.

  ‘Are we having any teatime today?’ broke in Wonka knocking the orange plastic lid off the tin on the side. ‘because I’m starving…..’

  I chucked down another bit of chocolate and resolved to be strong. Plan A had been to retrieve my life. The bridge between my old life and this new one had crossed a time so full of change the only way I could keep up was by slowing down. Some people had managed to stay with me for the ride, but most had fallen off.

  Wonka was dismissive of lost work colleagues and urged me to get out there and find new ones. ‘Don’t dwell on the past!’ he would say looking up from a prolonged washing session, ‘Think Big!’ Mmm, it was doing big that frightened me. What if I got the job with the agency, what if I did turn my life around?

  And what if the space in our lives would be filled, but by us, and our dreams? Shakespeare may have written about it or reckoned on it, but me, I was going to have to do it. ‘I have a plan’ I said to no one there.

  ‘Is it to go to bed?’ mumbled Wonka, from under it ‘because it’s time you did….’

  On the cusp of being employed again and no more intense appointments with the GP were all parts of my new life. Like it or not I was doing all the things that scared me and being open about it too. Especially with aged parent remaining, Mother. Veering between the sharpest person in the home to a non- compliant resident, Mother had all the answers. How come all the GPs and therapists had missed this trick I did not know. Just send everyone to the nearest residential home, adopt one of the nice inmates as your parent, preferably the one you never got on with, in fact let’s rack that up to, had a disastrous and poor relationship with, and let it rip! Never mind paying out for counselling, or worse having it for free, just have a real relationship instead! Even Wonka found this funny.

  ‘You didn’t think it was funny when I had to leave you all those times.’ I reminded him. But of course then, then there was Baba, who Wonka was having his love hate relationship with. Which brought us neatly back round to our aloneness. Could I fill in the spaces?

  The interview with the agency had gone well and my hair had looked a treat.

  ‘Leave it!’ shouted Wonka as I tweaked it for the nth time. Happily I had moved on from the nail scissors thing and my new anxiety ridden behaviour was dusting down to a bit of treble checking, a lot of swearing (from the safety of the car) and wait for it, an obsession with my eyebrows. There it was out. Oh and a million visits to the dentist. This had now superseded the GP and was confronting me big time. Was this going to be my destiny my kismet the thing I broke against. My whole life zoomed in on via a root canal? Possibly.

  ‘You hate the dentist’ observed Wonka as I booked in for yet another session. And yes I did. It was all the things I hated in the oncer. Someone being up close and personal, in my mouth. The constant fear of pain. The noise of the drill, the shrill whine it made, the careful selecting of an instrument and then two people talking over you as if you were a dead body. ‘What’s not to hate?’

  But laying there tense and definitely in the moment, well it seemed to do something to me. I noticed myself as if anew and all my foibles seemed writ large, and lit large by the powerful beam shining down on my poor open mouth. One fear would quickly follow another, and try as I might I could not hide. Even worse and Shakespeare would have loved this bit, I had developed a relationship with the Dentist that quite wore me out.

  ‘How did you go on?’ ventured Wonka, as I threw myself back in the good front door practically hugging the furniture in thankfulness at being home and out of the torture chamber. ‘I love you Wonka! I love you home!’ this chant led me to the pocket sized kitchen and the cheap kettle. I slapped it on and leaned happily on the side. I had survived the treatment. I had measured up to the situation and asserted myself with the Dentist.


  ‘Were you rude?’ quizzed Wonka, winding round the pouch boxes and rubbing against the biscuits. I thought I had been civil and merely once or twice commented. Such as saying ‘Don’t bring the mirror I hate looking at myself’ and ‘I want to rinse out’ every other minute. Oh and putting my hands up to do the job he was doing.

  ‘Getting in his way were you? ‘continued Wonka, still on the theme of me interfering and taking over. ‘Well I………’ I had thought I was being the compliant patient as opposed to the one Mother was being when examined by anyone brave enough to go near. They liked to tell me about their troublesome bedside or chair side experiences when I sidled in trying to whip past their little office, crammed with fierce looking nurses. Mother had been a nurse and her Mother before that. Due to this, her critical eye and mind set was opposed to their jolly or not approach. ‘It’s Mum’s leg,’ I used to say in her defence, whilst wheedling with her to try the latest horrid looking bandage. Surely I was different? I mean I had made a supreme effort to be a good customer (to the dental receptionist. This was ongoing) and an easy going if upfront patient, once vulnerable and laying in the chair. The language difference had been easy as I preferred to communicate by looks and facial expression. The Dentist however wanted to speak. And read my mind.

  Wonka was now peering out the back sp
ying for Rug. I looked over his shoulder to see if he was there. Our beautiful teddy bear face Ruggles, the stray with a life time pass into our yard, not there though. At this point I was feeding him in the shed, or really his shed, and did regular feeding runs throughout the day. He had a short tail thanks to some accident and I worried constantly about what was left of it. He was number one on my prayers list to St Francis, and at some future date I knew a trip to the vet with a wild caged beast was on the cards. Neither Golly nor Baba had taken to Rug.

  ‘He’s doing alright on his own,’ I pointed out to Wonka, ‘with just himself to think about.’ Admittedly I was now looking at cat toys on a well- known website. I hadn’t realised there was so much for cats out there. And all to keep them happy and amused it seemed. Surely having a relationship would be cheaper? .As I ruminated on the idea that just one relationship, and one situation could, by being right, rework all the others, the phone rang. It was the agency with a job for me to start the very next day.

  I felt
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