Order and ferocity have, now, the same name.
On the desk in the bedroom, on a strip of blue cloth, I have aligned the pills that Alberto will have to take during the day. On the left, near the small round vase with the pittosporum in it, there is a yellow pill.
Just under the yellow pill there is a slip of paper on which I have written the word donepezil. To the right of the yellow pill there is a second one, brighter yellow, and longer. And another slip of paper with the word rivastigmine on it. There’s an antiemetic, similar in shape to the donepezil, and it’s farther to the right. I don’t know why, but Alberto doesn’t need written instructions to remember what the second yellow pill is for. A jug of water and some paper cups stand just outside the perimeter of the blue cloth. The jug is transparent plastic, so Albert can see when the water is almost finished and tell me. Or, if it’s a good day, he can go to the kitchen, turn on one of the taps and fill it himself.
I don’t know yet if this is a good day. Alberto is in the bathroom. He’s moving around in there quietly, calmly. I can’t hear anything from outside, just a light rustling sound. When I hear the wedding ring that Alberto still wears hit against the door knob I know it’s time for me to get up and pretend to have forgotten something in his bedroom. I have to be there. He looks at me with those grey eyes of his, says hello – sometimes he calls me Miss – then he sits on one corner of the bed. He runs his palms over the bedspread as if he were caressing it. A frown creases his brow, and his eyes darken, and yet he smiles at me. He smiles a second time and asks me who I am and what such a lovely woman is doing in that room, with him. Such a dusty room. “Look” he adds sometimes, “look there on that window pane. Even the light is full of dust. This is no way to live. There is no sense living if even the light needs cleaning.”
The day ends, and before going to bed I think it might be a good idea, for me, for me alone, to find some paper, a pen, and take an hour at least every day to write.
I can sleep now. A light sleep in fact, but his breathing is more peaceful. For some days now I have been writing in pencil in an old address book I found in Alberto’s study, buried for who knows how long under some balance sheets. I took the address book, opened it and, on the first page, the one with the heading, started scribbling things down. Inside it, I jot down all the words that are left over when I understand that the sedative I make Alberto take to help him sleep, and which I would often prefer not to give him, is flowing through his veins. I sit down and write.
Alberto is asleep now, and I’m in the kitchen, sitting at the head of the table. I’m alone, with a glass of warm milk in front of me, these words that I string together one after the other, and think that Alberto is right. Sometimes even the light needs cleaning.