What reward is this?
You work hard for all of your life, saving what you can, putting little bits aside every month for a rainy day. You’ve lived a good life. You are a good person.
And you’ve saved it for what?
To end up here, with all these other folk in this ‘facility’.
Is this how it is supposed to be?
You can see heaven from here, if you look carefully.
Sat in these chairs especially designed to prevent you from getting up, tilted back ever so slightly so that your old and softened stomach muscles can’t quite get you out so effortlessly. With their easy to clean surfaces – should you have an accident – that just make your legs sweat, and swell.
This is the ticket you’ve bought, the ticket that your life has lead to, this is your trip of a lifetime and there is only one destination. You have no choice now, you just have to wait.
But don’t worry, in fact congratulations are in order, you’re nearly there. Your relatives have already waved you goodbye, you’re on your own now.
All you can do is wait. Just wait.
Is that a vague smell of piss? Pray that it isn’t coming from you.
Oh great, here is another plastic beaker of coffee (or is it tea, you can never tell). Miserably brewed to body temperature so you can dribble it down your chin like a toddler without causing yourself any damage. You cannot fail to say thank you, even though you don’t mean it. You are too polite.
Here you spend your hours, trapped in this sterile prison, where the doors are always locked, and the curtains drawn; a place where day becomes night permanently. Where the carers (guards?) talk to you like you have lost your marbles, you are a small child again. Oh they’re polite enough, with their faux pleasantness, that smile, the one that a fox might give a coop as he carefully picks the lock. Would you kindly do this, or would you care to do that. Lies roll from their tongues like emails from Nigerian Princes.
Would you like some chicken or beef? Oh it doesn’t matter, choose either, they’re both the same, bland, tasteless and more importantly soft, easy to chew, difficult to choke on.
Enforced watching of television is the order of the day, the flickering screen endlessly distracting a hundred pairs of eyes from the bland interior of their cell, preventing conversation with their fellow inmates. The sound of American movies and soap operas drowning out the moaning, and crying, and farting.
Bathroom trips are monitored here, “No you can’t go now, you’ll have to wait, would you kindly please sit down.”
“More water, you’ve already had some, would you please be patient, I am busy.”
“Here, have a pillow, another stifling blanket, have you got your support stockings on?”
Call buttons pressed, blinking away as they go unanswered, the reasons for the calls forgotten eventually, apologies all round for the inconvenience.
And you continue to sit there, eyes glazed, sweating, swelling, remembering a life before this, a life when you were younger and able to go to the toilet comfortably, and when you wanted to, and eat solid foods. A life when your ankles were more shapely, when you cared about your appearance.
A life when you were free.
All you can do now is sit, and swell, and sweat and wait. Wait until you see the light. Wait until it is your time to leave this place.
You begin to dream about the day when you’ll eventually leave, when that voice tells you to leave. That time when you’ll be free.
See the light, the voice will say, follow the signs. When the time comes you will have no option but to go.
With breath stinking of watery beef stroganoff, toes tingling as the blood refuses to return to them, and a full bladder you’ll float from your seat and head towards the light. You’ll follow the voice calling you into the light.
You’ll follow the signs. It will be better there, more peaceful.
Eventually at the end of the tunnel, the man will appear, the gatekeeper, and though blurred through tired eyes you will follow his instruction and he will allow you through that gate of no return, in an unfamiliar tongue he will welcome you into the other side.
And though the lights may be bright, and the signs may be confusing, do not be afraid.
Once you have crossed that threshold into another wold, a world you have only dreamt about, you will be free, free to find the happiness you’ve been longing for all this time….
It’s not long now. All you have to do is wait.
And as you doze in restless slumber, waiting in this place where time means nothing, where you have no idea whether it is day or night, a voice will call to you loud and clear, a voice will wake you, this voice will signify that you are nearly at the end.
Yes, this must be it, your time is almost upon you…
“Errr, good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, errr this is your Captain speaking, errr, you will have noticed the seatbelt signs have come on as we are now preparing to land…”