The freshly cut coriander roots smelt wonderful infusing the whole house with their virgin freshness as they awaited becoming some addition to a preplanned dish, and by doing so losing the extent of their odour, losing their power to totally overwhelm and becalm, losing their power to demand to be noticed but adding a more subtle hint of flavour, more of an afterthought or reminder of something not fully known but stirring in the back of the mind. A distant memory perhaps, or distant event, or maybe not distant, or something, just something that can’t be quite placed.
Betty lost her eyesight at the age of fifty. No longer able to see the rolling emerald field that extended from the veranda of the bungalow she shared with her older sister heading down at an increasingly awkward angle to the sheer cliffs that dropped to the shingle and jagged rocks that couldn’t really be described as a beach but more of a juncture between land and crashing white-topped waves. It wasnt a place where children played or lovers stole a moment, but it was a beauty that Betty could no longer see. No longer see the increasingly tufty grass that still manged to reach the point where the land suddenly fell sharply away. Still every day her sister took Betty onto the veranda to listen to the wind, the patter of rain ands the distant gulls and the occasional passing boat. The filed where they had played as children now windswept, gray drizzle covered and empty and lacking the sound of people.
Absinthe drunk without sugar warmed on a spoon but neat in a half pint glass. Aromatic and sweet and green. Not easy to drink as such but after a while a tear gradually sliding down the face. A tear cutting a mazy path through the grime and sweat stained face leaving a trail cut as it moved. A great sadness even a depression over something missed but not realised missing before. And just on the edge of vision something stirring. Something moving and turning heads to glimpse it never catching it but always it staying just in and out of sight. Then another and another and another tear.
Betty looked from the verandah and suddenly seeing the dark cloud heading in form the sea with the blur under it from the already falling rain. Moving quickly inland under an increasingly grey sky on both sides but with a a ray or two of light breaking through some hole in the cover somewhere not discernible but adding a glimmer of yellow starkly standing out of place in the greyness. The greyness that was fast approaching the green tufted field on which she now caught a glimpse of two young girls dressed in white frocks with frills with ribboned hair playing some game of running and falling over and laughter out of place as the cloud now darkening came onwards. The rain now splashing onto the grass and the smell of that dampness brought in advance of the falling water by the wind ushering all before it towards Betty. And yet the two girls played and frolicked in the light of yellow somehow broken through the all enveloping drabness of the moment. The girls suntouched and missed by the teeming rain still stuck in their game and fun. But it was darkening and Betty felt a cold shiver and ache and terrible uncertainty and desire to cry as things got cooler and she could not feel the rain, just the envelopment of grey.
Lying down on the bench press in the early morning tropical heat and pushing the heavy weight up and then letting it down. Then taking a rest before starting another group of presses, I always have the same sight. The trees leaves are green, and I don’t know what tree it is but the leaves on each twig hang to form a perfectly conical canopy under each grouping with the cone being wider at the bottom and at the top of each conical formation is a little yellow flower protected by its own cocoon of spiralling conical leaves. Many times I wondered and admired this simple but natural defence from the elements as I lay back on the bench and taking in the perfect and natural contrast between the deep blue shy and the perfect fresh green of the leaves. Sometimes but not often a single bird would even glide through the field of my vision.
And then Betty was in the ray of sunlight that still permeated the cloud cover somewhere above and she felt warm and calm and it was intensely quiet and then interrupted by the sound of the girls playing and Betty knew once again everything was alright. That everything was fine and as it should be and at that moment Betty felt a peace she had not felt for a long long time. A happiness that she had not felt in all her life. And Betty saw. She saw again. And she knew now what was inevitable and what was the way it should be.