Mortal Envy by Michelle Scowcroft

I envy her illness. I envy the gather of people who hush about her. Heads bowed, their voices honeyed, steps quietly trod.

Here am I. Alone.

I envy the joyous flowers they present and the bright boxes of chocolates that pile, unopened, by her bedside. The over‐bed table adrift in wafts of scented orange, of fresh apple and sweet kiwi fruit. Bowls of potpourri mask the stink of her urine, her defecation, her decay.

I smell the stink of weeks of my own unwash.

Idling on the windowsill, cards laze laden with a futility of get‐well wishes. White sheets crisp. Her pillows plump. Smoothed and soothed by a passage of nurses, visitors, attendants. All tendering their regard and their respect to the last hours of her life. Her comfort their concern.

Hear me. These hours are my last too. My role as a mother already stolen. I have no other.

Drugs and drips muffle her cares, her concerns, her consciousness. Drowsy in smile. By day, by night, I perch by her side. Alert. Always there. Always watching, always waiting. The doctors vigilantly come, and go. Seeing to her. Asking how she is.

They don’t ask me how I am. They don’t ask me if I pain. Have I eaten, have I washed, have I slept much the night.

She’ll be gone by the morrow to the rosy empty of no pain, no anguish. No more worries. And me, alone.

Fearing the unknown, struggling all the tomorrows on my own.The harrow of years yet to come.

Plundered. Despoiled. Impotent. Left useless. Without future. Still enduring the pain that she, fortuitously, no longer to suffer.

Can I come with you, I whisper in her ear. I took you everywhere with me when you were small, and now, when I feel small, you go and abandon me.

Her eyes deepen and pool. Her breath loud beating. She falters as she tries to move her head, her lips towards me. She mur‐murmurs an incomprehensible into my ear.

No choices, now, her to make. Her burdens blown. Life clinging no more.

I envy her that. I envy her demise.


About the author: Michelle Scowcroft lives in an isolated area of the Yorkshire Dales. She graduated in 2015 from Lancaster University with an MA in Creative Writing. Michelle prefers to write in a literary genre mostly aimed at a female readership with themes of difference, dislocation, alienation and loss. Unlike Mortal Envy most of her work is humorous and positive in outcome.

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