Saturday 26 June 2021

'Better Like That' by Alva Holland

‘Better like this? Or like this? Or are they the same?’

The doctor repeats this question so many times, my ears hurt more than my eyes. The model human eyeball perched on a rotating metal plinth in the corner of the examination room glares at me with each gyration. I blink and replace the stare with a disco ball – that suspended rotating glitter ball reflecting our pitiful efforts to dance to The Bay City Rollers’ ‘Bye-Bye Baby.’

The memories come flooding in.

You wore a pink halter-neck top over purple bell-bottoms. You told me your friend was more attractive, but it was only ever you. With multi-coloured beams catapulting across your face, I could tell your eyes were blue, the same blue you passed on to four of our six children.

Ben’s favourite colour was blue. His only request for Christmas four years running was a blue plasma ball lamp which you still switch on in his room, lying empty, preserved in his memory – the blue room with four lamps.

‘Better like this? Or like this? Or are they the same?’

It was better like that. Better when we were young when the music switched to a slow number and you stayed. Better when you accepted my ring, when we danced again under a disco ball I hooked up in the living room a month after Ben was born. Better when I could see your smile. Better when blue was a happy colour.

You sit quietly in your chair while the doctor explains.

‘To be honest, macular degeneration is such a slow-moving disease, I doubt he will go blind before…well, you know, before…taking his age into account.’

Doc faltered. I felt your hand squeeze mine.

‘Let’s go,’ you say. ‘There’s a disco ball waiting.’

Better like that.


First published by ZeroFlash in 2017.


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