Nodding agreement, he turns and retraces his steps unable to smile and still feeling the warmth of her touch. Taunted by time that has become squashed into one moment shredding reasoned thought, he falls back into his chair trying to reason with confusion; to make sense of the senseless as the bloom of a summer’s morning lights up the magnolia walls.

“How old am I?” He asks suddenly, lifting his eyes once more into hers as she holds out a mug steaming tea.

“Your eighty five you silly old fool,” she responds gently mocking, meaning no harm; failing wit her only defence.

She waits, watching his face struggle with the information, finally finding acceptance and settling. Then she leaves him to bury her frustration in other tasks until exhaustion or the relentless sting of arthritis erodes her strength and wills her to find solace in sleep. Trying not to think beyond that one moment, or back over a lifetime when things were different and he knew where to find a spoon or work the toaster. Always fearful of the day she will slip into a dark place in his mind too far down the meandering path to ever be recovered. Angry beyond all reason that the shared grace of old age has been stolen before her vision of it had a chance to come true.

He sips his tea as the clock on the wall marks time back and forth, one more minute, one more hour. The panic is gone, forgotten. The unbearable weight of fatigue pressing his eyelids shut that he might sleep and remember a moment not yet lost, as he waits for the day that his memory will come back.

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