Waiting for the Physio
Margaret was a tiny self-contained woman with silver hair, gold earrings, striped trousers and a pale mauve body-warmer. Perhaps she had been a beauty, but her chin was doubtful now and there was crazy-paving around her eyes. Tiny feet, well-shod in leather lace-up shoes.
Grace was over-weight and all her parts were subject to more than a fair share of gravity. There had been an attempt to dye her hair, but the scalp was ever-visible beneath it. A suite of bags had formed a colony under her eyes and her arms hung like broken branches from her shoulders. She had not attended to herself since waking that morning, or for a longer period before that. Like Margaret, she was well-shod, in shoes that did not look English, perhaps German or Italian, also in leather with tiny studs in the soles, laced-up flatties.
The walls of the waiting room were festooned with notices and charts showing how simple exercises could keep a body active and alive.
“How’s Marjorie,” Grace asked.
“She’s OK,” Margaret said. “She keeps going, but it’s not easy for her.”
“Once she married him,” Grace said, “it was never going to be a walk in the park. What’s the daughter called?”
“Celia. She’s living with a man, used to be married to someone else and his wife and kids live in the same street, few doors away. Marjorie says there’s days he comes home from work and walks right past Celia’s door and goes to his old house. And Celia, she gets upset but she makes excuses for him, says he’s tired after a days work, not thinking.”
“Not capable of thinking, more like. Sounds like that.”
“And Celia, she suffers from vaginal dryness, has to use a gel made from kiwi fruit, extract of kiwi fruit. Marjorie says it makes life possible but she’s still dry, you know what I mean? Creamy but dry.”
“I can’t stand them,” Grace said. “Kiwi fruit. All those black seeds, get lodged under your teeth.” She moved her feet to allow a man with a belly to squeeze past. “Give me a banana any day.”
Margaret let it drift for a moment before saying. “I love fruit. It’s my favourite.”
And the son?” Grace asked. “Is he married? Or living with someone?”
“Oh, no,” Margaret said. “He’s the other way. Might have a partner, I suppose. Though Marjorie’s never mentioned it.”
Grace shook her head. “That whole family,” she said, “it’s only held together by a piece of string.”