At eighty-six years old, Rosalind was ready to dive back into the dating pool. It had been five long days since Clive had dropped dead mid-sentence and mid-date in the community dining hall.
When his daughter came to collect his belongings, she’d asked Rosalind what his last words had been, and she’d told her that he’d moaned about the lumpy mashed potato. Clive’s daughter had looked disappointed like she’d been hoping his final words would have been more poetic, but the truth was, Clive had been witling on about the exotic dancers he’d hooked up with in the 1980s. He’d gone on and on about how they tied him up in twisted knots with ropes and other types of bondage, at which point, Rosalind had had enough and switched off her hearing aid. Back in the day, she would have got up and walked away, but nowadays, she needed assistance. Her tiny frame wasn’t as strong as it used to be, and when she stood, she often became dizzy for a minute or two.
Rosalind now sat in the community living room with her peers and scanned the circle of wingback armchairs for talent. There was no time to waste. Her chances of hooking up with someone today was slim, it was already mid-morning, but Rosalind wasn’t going to let that stop her.
To her far left, Roger, who must be in his nineties, ate a prawn sandwich and with each bite, a piece of shrimp dropped into his lap. Rosalind shuddered. Sitting opposite her, Colin dozed and drooled, and to his left sat Jack, who always muttered to himself and stared blankly into the past.
Glancing to her right, Rosalind spotted Arnold and smiled. He was a cheery fellow, always pleasant and making jokes. Today, he sat up as straight as his arched back would let him and sang his heart out to an audience that was so close to death, you could smell it in the air. It smelt of tuna and lavender, with a faint whiff of urine and an undertone of disinfectant. Rosalind’s top lip curled and she pressed her hand to her nose. It was only then she realised the smell was coming from Harold who sat next to her.
Yet, Rosalind wouldn’t be discouraged, and she clapped along to Arnold’s tune with as much enthusiasm as she could muster. She had no idea what the song was, and she wasn’t sure Arnold knew either.
Rosalind’s fun came to an abrupt end when, Annie, one of the aged carers, helped Arnold back to his room. Apparently, he had an appointment that afternoon to see about getting his gallbladder removed.
Rosalind sighed and must have dozed off, because when she woke, Harold had gone, and her husband was sitting next to her.
© Michelle Upton