It calls itself a Care and Rehabilitation Centre. Institutionally cheerful, the halls and rooms are redolent with top notes of Lysol, bleach, rubbing alcohol, and antiseptic hand cleaner, which don’t quite mask the odorous under layers of the illnesses and excretions of the residents. Some are there for a temporary stay – post-surgeries, accident victims, those needing only a period of intensive care and therapy before being released to lives outside. Of the permanent residents, many are elderly, immobile, unrecoverable; only one way they will be leaving here. Some are younger, and maybe they’ll improve, and maybe they won’t.
They are two of the youngest long-term residents at the facility. She is short and plump, with a childlike mind. She has a walker that supports both her and her portable oxygen, and when she comes into the recreation area, she sits down at a table on the far side of the room. She is direct and determined, and lets us know whenever she is having a bad day and will be cranky.
He would be very tall if he could stand, and probably used to be strong and muscular. Now he is wheeled into the room and parked centre-front. He was a musician before his accident; now he often needs help turning the pages of the songbook. He follows along with the words, and sings a bit to himself, but his speech is still laboured and low.
“That’s my boy friend,” she calls to us from across the room every week. He grins.
They ask the pastor if he will marry them and, after only a moment of surprised hesitation, he agrees.
The following week, they come into the room as usual, she at her table over by the coffee window, and he in his chair up front.
“That’s my husband,” she says proudly. He grins.
2. A Ruined Relaaaaationship
He loved all women. He loved them in the way that a hunter loves the creatures that he’s going to kill. There was always that one moment when he was overwhelmed with romance – when he would fall in love. That one moment when he saw a woman for the first time and fell in love with every curve in her body, every expression on her face, the sound of her voice, the way she moved, and he wanted her. He wanted to fuck her and lose himself in her; to grab hold of her and tear her in two. He wanted to give her a good poke, ream her out; make her do what she didn’t want to do and make her like it. He looked for the slut that he knew was there under the surface. Now she wanted it all because she wanted him. He wanted to own her, take her will and make her crawl across broken glass. When she cried out, “But I love you”, then he would destroy her. He would rip her beating heart out of her chest and throw it into the street. He would leave her naked and tearing at her own skin. He would tell her how stupid she was to cry.
3. Love Poem