She did not notice, but the corner of my eye was occupied with her. The frame of the side of her face sloping on the nose, then curving on her lips before slipping to her chin. She still looked so regal in her frailty that I could not help, but be besotted. Even now, I wanted her.
“How are you?” she asked. It was not the first time she had spoken, neither was it the first time she had asked me the question since we met today.
“Am fine,” I said for the fifth time.
Her mind seemed to meander again.
When we reached the curve of the road, she turned to me and inquired, “Do you know me?”
“Why are we here?”
“For a walk,” I said assuringly.
We continued back on the route that we had taken from the hospital. She seemed lost, trailing behind me. When we were young, and when there had been no reason to forget, she had once said that I was the last person her mind would possibly erase. But today was so different. She did not seem to recognise me, like I wanted her to.
We threw sparing glances at each other, smiling uncertainly…I thought I saw dimples, but they too seem to have vanished like her memory.
“How are you?” I heard her say again. And like the loyal man of a beautiful yet nagging wife, who feigns calmness, despite being disturbed, I replied, “Am fine.”
When we reached the hospital, she reached for my hand and held it tight, just like she always did; her face broke into a wide smile, making her eyes smaller than they already were: “I had a nice time,” she said, “We should go out again.”
But all I could muster, was “Am fine.”
I think I was nervous; her smile had enveloped me, overwhelming me with deep sadness; my mind began racing. “Fine, fine, fine,” I could hear myself repeat.
Her hold on my hand tightened…I could see her leading me in, inside the building and then into the room. “It will be fine,” she said, and rested me on the bed.
I saw a nurse stroll in: “Is he okay doctor?”
“Yes, I think it’s a fit. His mind’s been playing tricks. He will be better soon.”
“Where did you go?” she asked her.
“He wanted to go for a walk, so I took him along.”
Sarah, Sarah…I am fine, fine, I repeated.
“Doctor,” the nurse said.
“I think he was hallucinating about his dead wife…she too, had Alzheimer’s.”