It was some years ago when she first viewed it but the painting had lodged uncomfortably in her subconscious and surfaced from time to time. These days it persistently remained in her conscious mind more and more frequently. It was partly because she could only rarely remember when or where she had viewed the original. But it was the melting pocket watches that disturbed her most, and the starkness of the setting chilled and unsettled her.
Perhaps the images had warned her of what was to come, or more likely her reaction to the picture was a recognition that the changes although unacknowledged were already starting. In her mind time had shifted, her focus on the past was clearer, but day to day was hazy and ill defined as though she was viewing the present through a gauze like veil. When she tried to recall recent events she felt like physically shaking her head to clear her vision as if the previous days happenings would fall in some sort of order on the table top in front her. She was frustrated with the need to fill in the blanks but sometimes her memory was wilfully erratic.
Sophie shifted uncomfortably in her chair, wearily grabbed her jacket, picked up the lead from the hook in the kitchen and set out with with Rusty for their morning walk.
Months later, she remembered that morning with a startling clarity. The feel of the chill October air on her cheeks and the crackle of the leaves underneath her boots. She felt refreshed and filled with energy and the familiar sight of Rusty’s wagging tail ahead, but always checking back to make sure she was keeping up. When she came home she phoned for an appointment. She needed to confirm what she had suspected for some time.
Of course she cancelled the appointment and and wandered aimlessly around the house, plumping the cushions, picking up photographs of the family and studying them as if to trying to fix the images in her mind. The place felt empty and unfamiliar although she had lived here all her married life. Rusty trailed behind her following her every move and leaning against her leg whenever she stopped. She ended up in the bedroom and Rusty paused at the door, knowing he was not allowed to cross the threshold. She knelt beside the bed and he approached her slowly. She held out her arms to him and sobbed. Once she had started she couldn’t stop, so she cried her heart out and told Rusty her fears. The loneliness, the fear of dementia, the utter devastation she felt at the loss of her husband. Sophie had felt numb since the funeral, trying to comfort her grown up children but unable to express the suppressed anger, fear and terror she felt. Rusty whined softly occasionally, but listened patiently until exhausted, she fell asleep beside him on the floor.
When she awoke, Sophie remembered the trip to New York, the last trip abroad with her husband, where they had viewed the painting by Salvador Dali. She even remembered the name- The Persistence of Memory. It was later on that day that David at last brought himself to face the possibility that his memory was failing. They coped together and it was only three years later that he died after a massive stroke. They were good years, she realised now, and through David they had both relived the early days of their marriage, and the children. She took care of the present and with David they revisited the past.
Feeling so much better, Sophie went downstairs, grabbed her jacket, picked up the lead from the hook in the kitchen and set out with Rusty for their morning walk. The dog was delighted and tactfully said nothing about his missing lunch.