An excerpt from Malarky by Anakana Schofield (Oneworld - August, 2013)
—There’s no way round it, I’m finding it very hard to be a widow, I told Grief, the counsellor woman, that Tuesday morning.
—Are you missing your husband a great deal?
—Not especially. I miss the routine of his demands it’s true, but am plagued day and night with thoughts I’d rather be without.
—Are you afraid to be in the house alone?
—Indeed I am.
—Are you afraid someone’s going to come in and attack you?
—Indeed I am not.
—And these thoughts, do they come when you are having problems falling asleep?
—No, I said, they are with me from the first sup of tea I take to this very minute, since three days after my husband was taken.
—Tell me about these thoughts?
—You’re sure you want to know?
—I’ve heard it all, she insisted, there is nothing you can say that will surprise me.
I disbelieving, asked again. You’re sure now?
—Men, I said. Naked men. At each other all the time, all day long. I can’t get it out of my head.
—Well now, she said and fell silent.
She had to have been asking the Almighty for help, until finally she admitted she could think of no explanation and her recommendation was to scrub the kitchen floor very vigorously and see would a bit of distraction help.
—Pay attention to the floor and mebbe they’ll stop.
I recognized the potential a widow has to frighten people. I had frightened the poor woman something rotten.
The next week I returned.
—I have scrubbed the floor every day and I am still plagued by them.
Grief was silent another good while.
She had to be honest, she’d never come across a woman who’d experienced this. Usually a woman simply missed her husband without this interference.
—Are you turning to your faith?
—Oh God I am.
The two of us would now pray for some guidance because she was at a loss.
—Were they still the same images?
—Worse, I said. Even more of them and at filthy stuff together and now they all seem to be bald regardless of their ages. Did she think the devil might target widows?
—He might, Grief said. He very well might.
—Would it be worth looking into them Nigerian preachers, the black fellas I seen on the telly who can exorcise them from the place?
—It might, she said, it very well might.
The girls in my gang asked why wasn’t I going to the grief counselling anymore.
—There’s something awful morbid about her. She’s the sort who’d nearly put you off being alive.
And we all laughed about it, until Joanie said be careful now I think that’s so and so, who’s married to so and so’s husband, who’s Patsy’s cousin and we’d never hear the end of it if it was to get back to her.
—It’s awful complicated being a widow, you’ve to be careful what you say, I told them, as I’ll tell you all now. If you are a widow, be careful what you say. I think it’s why they started talking about Jimmy in the bank.
Mebbe I said too much.