Ten Thousand Days in the Life of Sylvia Rigby | Andrew Szemeredy

Sylvia knows the truth about love. In fact, she’s mad for it.

Ten Thousand Days in the Life of Sylvia Rigby

By Andrew Szemeredy

For the “Everything is Everything” Award

“Don’t leave me now… darling, don’t, please… I am begging you.” Sylvia’s voice was hardly audible, although the room was very quiet, only the droning hum of the respirator provided some noise, aside from the occasional beep from an ECG machine or from the microwave where Edie was warming her cup of tea.

Sylvia’s glance now turned to Brett’s face, or where she suspected it must have been.

“Brett… you remember our love…? Our hot, deep, baths of pleasure, our deep massages, the deep meeting of our minds as we embraced the hour and the minute, each other and… ” her voice trailed off again. Brett’s jawbone was moving, his jugular hung farther and farther out of his shirt’s neck, he was obviously in a quandary. He heard Edie’s voice from behind:

“Brett, sweetie, can you get me a few milkies? You know, those tiny milk containers. One percent or skim milk. I can’t stand these whiteners.” Brett gave no reply. “I don’t know why Silvie does not insist to have some milkers in the supply cabinet. There are these boring things in here… a culpator… a strigila… a vulva positioner… uvula slings… but no milkers, only whitener.” And she added after a short pause, “And it does not even have milk in it. “0.03 percent Droxillious desoxyterpentinum extract. No gluten”.”

A nurse poked her head in, then she slipped into the room, unobtrusively, quietly. Checked the intravenous bag, and took a few readings off of the machines in the room. Brett eventually asked, “Nurse, could we please trouble you to bring some milkers, you know, those small containers of milk?”

“Why?” asked the nurse. “The patient requests it? or doctors’orders?”

“Neither, dear lady, but my friend Edie here wants some in her tea.”

The nurse looked at Edie. She sized up the situation, seeing the three in the room: the near-dead Sylvia, the robust Brett in his tweed jacket, and the provocatively, irresistibly sexy Edie in her scanty outfit of white shorts, purple tank top, and beach tongs. Her toenails were painted. Red. Fiery-burning blood red.

She turned to Brett again. “No contest, eh.” And she left.

And no contest it was indeed. Sylvia somehow recuperated, and she came out of the mini-stroke a bit shaken, a bit different, a bit odd, a bit wiser, in the strangest of ways.First thing she did was start a diary. “I write these notes to you, dear diary”, said one of her thoughts in ink on paper, “because you are the only one I know is nonjudgmental about Brett. He left two years ago, when I was very sick… but he loves me, me, me, me, with all his might as I love him with all my heart. People hush and look away and quiet up when I talk about Brett… there is a terrible secret, or some transparent ridicule… but I know he is mine, I’m his, and he’ll come back one day.”

Time has kept on passing, seasons came, seasons went, decades fell down into the river that flowed by behind her house, like branches of some Weeping Willow tree, which, incidentally, housed a family of midnight owls.

Sometimes she had doubts. She was angry at herself for that. She would take her point-lace blouse off and whip herself, cruelly, when doubtful thoughts about Brett’s devotion came upon her.

She has withered. The Weeping Willow on the river by her house dried out, it had to be chopped down. The grass was getting the white of frost this late autumn, and fog would lie on and over the river. The owls would hoot, missing their nesting tree… and the hope, the memory faded… and when that happened, Sylvia would take out her prayer book, and substitute Brett’s name when the script called to say “our Lord”.

Sylvia would go to church, and some people protested against this quietly, as they considered her a blasphemer, a worshipper of false idols. But this was a quiet little town, people did not make waves, they avoided confrontation and later, toward the end of the third decade that Brett had gone away, hatred, bigotry and resentment were exchanged for feelings of pity, protecting, and providing for whom they considered Sylvia now: the weeping widow. A victim, a saint, a picture of pure devotion itself.

But Sylvia was not weeping. She was optimistic, she was upbeat, she prepared tea for three when the preacher came to visit, and offered him a selection of rare Indian teas, and then routinely she offered the same selection to a non-present person on an empty chair… and expected a reply.

Day 10,302 came. There was no mistake, she kept the diary notes under headings of strictly increasing numerical order. And the doorbell rang. She looked at the clock… it was not time for the priest to come. She took her cane, and limped all the way to the front door, and opened it…

… and there was Brett!! In all his might… he stood there tall, with his enormous chest swollen, in happy expectation to see his old flame… and Sylvia almost jumped, nay, she really jumped, up, into his arms, never mind her hip replacement and her advanced arthritis in her knees, and threw her arms around his neck, and hung there in a wet, sloppy, awkwardly aimed, but ah ever so sweet kiss.

Five minutes later they were in the hall, she was serving tea, this time to a chair which was indeed occupied by Brett, in his tweed jacket, his thick moustache, and pants and shirt which seemed to be in an awful state of disrepair.

They could not talk. Not that there was nothing to say… there were things to say that probably would have filled volumes and volumes of books… but they were both choked by emotions, and she felt so happy as she has not ever before in her entire life. Tears were flowing from his eyes… and she dried them off with kisses. She held his big, rough, but beautiful hand in hers… and then the preacher came to the door and raised his hat and left… and at dinner time his wife brought over a steaming roast of a feast for the couple.

They… they went to bed… together. They went upstairs into her big, bold, beautiful, baldachin bed, and they lay down, and touched each other gently, looking constantly in each other’s eyes, smiling, weeping, and stroking each other with hands, with looks.

Next morning the preacher’s wife found Silvie in bed. She was not breathing.

Police was called, and the preacher showed up dutifully, too.

“Who was the last person who saw Ms. Rigby alive?” the sergeant asked, officiously. The preacher said he had been there the previous night, and she had been alone. The preacher’s wife added that she had brought a portion of pot roast for the ailing Sylvia. Yes, she often would come to feed her, bringing her a single portion.

The policeman looked at the one dirty plate, which had the obvious remains of a pot roast. He went downstairs again, and took a mental inventory of the hall: three chairs, a coffee table, one empty cup, with lipstick on its edges, and a full cup, cold, sitting by one of the other chairs.

Outside, snow was falling steadily, and owls hooted over the half-frozen river.

The policeman took off his hat, and stood in attention for a minute, quietly, so as to pay his last respects.


Andrew says:

A few words about the inspiration to this piece (written ad acta):

All pieces that come out of an author are a piece of that author.

Transactional analysis (which I never took part in) and role-forcing of social interactions fuse at the artistic manifesto by transactional writers, which states that any writing that is true to life is a writing the spirit of which is equally applicable to the author’s inner world, and to the major players in the outer world of his life. This is also the basis for the claim of transactional philosophers that states that for true compatibility in a couple, the similarities must be staggering; and if not, then their imagined or perceived reality must be staggeringly similar.

This further begs the logical conclusion that a sadist is a masochist, the two can’t be divorced from each other within the same person; a truly warm and good person is utterly evil, or must feel the guilt of being utterly evil; and a truly insane person is the most sober, with the clearest of insights anywhere around in the midst of us.