Friday, 27 May 2011

The Fall

She throws open her door.

“What have you done? You silly old fool.”

She levers her arthritic body out of the car, every joint protesting. Nothing works fast enough for her to be the woman she was. But her voice does. She can still shout.

“You silly old fool. What did you have to go and do that for?”

He sits, his old legs splayed. His head is swimming. One minute he was upright, going to get her a parking ticket, now he is on the ground. He can smell dust, and the rubber tyres of the car beside him, and he tastes blood in his mouth. Her voice is the only familiar thing. He looks for her, blinking in the bright spring sun. What happened? It’s as though he’s been drinking. And he doesn’t need to move to know everything hurts.

“You alright Grandad?” A young man appears, and puts a hand on his shoulder.

He stares at the stranger. Why is he calling him ‘Grandad’? He isn't one of his grandsons. His mouth opens to speak, but confusion has hidden his tongue.

“Silly old fool.”

She has hold of his arm now, trying to raise him, trying to rouse him. “What did you have to go and do that for eh? No thank you dear,” she says to the young man. “He’s all right.”

“I’m a nurse,” the man says, bending down, but the old woman flaps him away.

“He’ll be all right, won’t you dear?”

The old man sits lost in the sunlight. Once upon a time he was her lover. He was ‘Bill’, not ‘Grandad’, an engineer who won three medals for saving lives in the war. But not any more. Now he is a tottery old man who trips over pavements, and about whom passers-by say “Awww, look at the poor old dear.”

It’s been some fall.


  1. And there's nothing to catch us and no stopping the fall. We ragged monkeys, doomed to perish.

    A touching tale, truthfully told.

  2. Thank you Mike, I saw this old man fall over in a car park earlier today. His wife kept yelling at him, (as if this would make any difference!) and although lots of people offered, she wouldn't let anyone help. I could imagine it was their weekly trip out, and it just seemed so sad.

  3. You slip and get so old. I talk to my senile grandfather nightly. What he remembers differs on the hour, but my voice always rings through for him.

  4. This is a really poignant way to put this. I feel for him. I want to call my Grandma and ask about her life, generally. Very nicely written.

  5. Its been some fall.

    What a wrap up sentence. Boof. Four words to cover a lifetime.

    That was devastatingly good. Bravo!

  6. I feel so sorry for the old man, lost in confusion and being harangued by someone who doesn't want to accept the passage of time. Beautifully written.

  7. This is a wonderful vignette in a fascinating blog by an imaginative person - I shall be back as often as I can. I especially appreciated the double meaning of the final word, 'fall'.

  8. Thanks for all your comments, it's so nice to receive encouragement xxx

  9. So sad and full of thought provoking emotions. It is a good reminder to treat old people with the respect they deserve. I have a lump in my throat - this really moved me!
    Kat X

  10. Just saw this. It's heartbreaking, especially the line about him having been a lover once. Fab writing.


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