Some writers focus completely on one task, one the new short story, the next novel, the poem they are wrestling with, others seem to have many different things bubbling away like pots on a stove. Lois Elsden is at present working on her next Radwinter novel, which should be published early summer 2017, however she also keeps drifting back to another unfinished story, started several years ago.
Here is an except from ‘The Story of Frederico Milan’; Frederico feels dissatisfied with his life, and thinks perhaps trying to help someone who also has problems might him. A chance encounter with a priest sends to a care home for severely disabled adults, to visit Jerome:
Frederico returned to Jerome and pulled a chair to sit beside him. Jerome looked no different, his face the same blank mask, the grey eyes dead and unseeing. He peered at Jerome. The frog face was dead, only the glisten of saliva on his lips showed here was any life. Frederico tentatively touched Jerome’s hand. The white skin was warm and smooth.
“My father-in-law thinks I killed my wife,” Frederico said. “She left me three years ago. She went off with someone else. Paul can’t believe that his perfect little girl could do that. He thinks I killed her. He can’t understand why she would not get in touch with them. Perhaps she was running away from all of us, not just me.”
“She left me, packed a bag, walked out. It was raining. I had been in the bedroom with her as she put her things in her bag. I had done shouting, I was just begging, weeping and begging, pleading, on my knees, literally on my knees. She just walked past me and left me there. I fell onto the bed howling. Then I got up and ran downstairs, tripped and almost fell. I grabbed the banister and nearly dislocated my shoulder, fell against the rail. I didn’t even notice how much it hurt. She was in the kitchen getting a bottle of water out of the fridge and some bars of chocolate. I tried to give her my car keys, if she was taking the car there was no point in me having them. I sort of focussed on that. She said she didn’t want it.”
Frederico stopped. He was holding Jerome’s limp hand. Hastily he let go and sat back on the uncomfortable chair.
“I asked her if she wanted a lift. She said she was meeting someone.”
Frederico stopped again.
“You can’t imagine what a shock that was. Up till then she’d pretended it was me. She was leaving me, that there wasn’t anyone else. She wanted to be free, she said, she wanted to be her own person, she said. In the end she just said she hated me. I got so hung up on that….”
Frederico stood up, went to the window, watched the rain.
“She called a taxi, it arrived she ran out and got in and that was the last time I saw her, running through the rain to the taxi. I stood there getting wet, my world had stopped. Or maybe the world had kept spinning and I’d just dropped off.”
He turned back to the room.
A woman with a plastic apron came in.
“Hello,” she said pleasantly. “I just need to attend to Jerome.”
“I was going anyway,” Frederico thought about asking about Jerome’s clothes but suddenly didn’t have the words. “Bye Jerome.”
He wouldn’t come again.