I am lying in bed, a mountain of pillows propping up the top half of my body, a noble lady holding court in her own bedroom. Carl moved my bed so I can see straight out into the backyard when I wake up.
It’s a windy day and I can see the crisscrossed power lines and undulating layers of houses, which give way to rolling hills covered in brush. Carl will be here soon. I could get up, but this morning I want to luxuriate in the pillows a little longer.
I can see the clothesline from my position on the bed. It doesn’t move in the wind because the base is rusted, but the large mulberry tree behind it does. The branches sway to a syncopated rhythm, the trees further back serve as its crazed back-up dancers. They are out of time with the mulberry tree and each other, but it’s dancing nonetheless.
I am thinking of a day – it would have to be more than three years ago – that was a lot like this one. That day the wind whipped the same trees into frenzied collections of limbs as I battled to hang washing on the line. There was no particular reason, but that day I felt so happy. The sort of joy that longs to manifest itself in movement, in dancing circles around the backyard. I was wearing a blue dress with small white flowers and a yellow sweater.
The wind tugged at me, throwing long blades of grass against my legs and whipping my red hair into my mouth. My short dress rose and fell at dangerous and erratic intervals. I smiled at the thought of our neighbours from the towering concrete mansion that overlooked our yard. You could almost feel them, judging our crooked fence and unweeded veggie patch. I imagined one of them wondering if they really had just seen a flash of auburn pubic hair. Of course the crazy girl next door wouldn’t wear underwear.
A sound in the hall. Carl knocks twice on the bedroom door before entering. He is balding and flabby, but strong. I like Carl because he’s not timid. He strides across the room and throws his bag at the end of the bed. His teal polo shirt is emblazoned with a large logo of two hands clasping each other, the same uniform he wears every day.
‘Want a hand, lazy?’
He smiles as he says it. I can get into my wheelchair by myself, but sometimes it’s nice to have Carl’s help. I catch one last look of the backyard. We are getting rid of the old Hills Hoist and putting in something I can reach from my chair. It’s the kind of thing that would have made me cry once, but today I am happy. Carl smells like eucalyptus laundry detergent as he lowers me into my chair, and the mulberry tree is still dancing.