Iris lies on her deathbed. She looks at her withering mother squeezing out dried tears. Slowly, she turns to face her husband, whose crystalised eyes glistened the continuing scenes of her life – dreamy images of their three children, the completion of his book, her saving yet another patient, but most importantly, her father. He leans over and whispers, “He’ll be here soon. He’s on his way. Give him this last chance”.
And Iris did. She closed her eyes. And saw her father one last time.
Iris continued her morning runs. With every hoist she aspired; every stride, she progressed. She tortuously believed that optimism could cure everything. Her joints were not crackling, her skin was not stinging, her lungs were not heavy and her heart was not burning. But it was no use. By the last lap she had toppled into sweat and tears. No matter how positive she was, how regular she wanted her life to be, her body had its own decomposing clock.
No more children
“I don’t want children anymore.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean what I said. I don’t want children anymore.”
“You mean now?”
“I…I just don’t want to.”
“You don’t want to? That’s it? It’s what we’ve been dreaming of ever since we’ve been married and now, and now that’s all you’re going to say to me – you don’t want to because you don’t want to? What’s changed your mind? Are you unhappy? Are you unwell? Is it stress? Is it…me?”
“No really Andrew, stop. Please.”
“Okay. Okay. Sure. We can talk about this later.”
Dying Words to the Dying
Iris went to see one of her patients. Darcy had been in her care for over three years now. She sat on his bed and took his hand. He tried to smile in acknowledgement. His words were breaths; each syllable pronounced took a part of him.
“I’m afraid Iris.”
She found words, but couldn’t arrange them into sentences. She had tears, but hid them behind a smile. The only thing she could say was a lie.
“Everything will work out.”
His eyes laughed. “You’re very good, but I’m still afraid. All of a sudden I have to fulfil my life in the little time I have left.”
“No wait,” he paused to summon up life, “Promise me you’d do it all before it’s scheduled.”
She nodded and watched him sink back into his pillows.
She kept her promise. But only after she went home where she cried and cried and squeezed out the last of tears, so she’d never cry again. The next morning, she started her sunrise lopes.
5:00 – M. Jules
5:15 – C. Angus
5:30 – D. Leslie
5:45 – H. Porter
6:30 – radiation therapy
7:00 – pickup groceries
The day Iris took home her Degree in 1985, she baked a meringue pie. But it was Andrew who ended up having it for breakfast. It took him four days. Iris would’ve helped, but she hated meringues.
Iris met Andrew in Med school. On their first date she took him to Thebes Park, a locked territory of her consciousness. The sun was casting its final shadows onto the swings, the monkey bars, and the slides. Desolated, her heart desperately yearned for him to fill it. Leaning against an old rejuvenating birch tree, she told him she’d loved him all her life. He smiled and kissed her.
Five years later, she married him.
On the night of Iris’ year twelve formal, she was styled, perfumed, and glamorous. She was wearing a wedding costume and waited eagerly in the living room. Her mother came in holding the phone, shaking her head. She only said two words – “business commitments”. Iris ran to the phone, but it was dead.
“It’s someone else isn’t it? Is it Stephanie? Is it Maria? I want to know, I need to know.”
“No, this has nothing to do with other people. I’m…you’re…we’re just not meant to be.”
“You’ll have to do better than that. I want to know.”
“Okay…fine. You’re cold…”
“I’m cold? I’m cold? Who’s the one who’s walking out? Who’s the one who’s leaving me with the kid? Who’s the one who wouldn’t even see his pregnant wife? Nine months. You had nine months to come and see me.”
“Mary, please, I told you. I had business commitments.”
“Business commitments, business commitments. What about family commitments? Don’t forget, it was you who put this ring on me; you made me Mrs Dally. I’ve done my duty, but you’re still leaving. Leaving me with nothing except a huge mortgage and ten year old kid.”
“You don’t have to worry about that; I’m taking Iris with me. And she’s twelve, not ten.”
“Oh no you don’t. If you win custody and get away with paying maintenance, what am I going to live on?”
“But you don’t even want her!”
“I do now.”
“No you don’t. You’re just after my money.”
“You’re unbelievable. Fine, fine. Okay, let’s just have one cash settlement and end all this once and for all.”
“It’s not just wealth, you’ve caused me emotional damage. I want you to remember me for the rest of your life.”
“I’m going to fight this.”
“Sure you are. But you won’t win. And a bit of advice Andrew, when the kid stays with me, it’s easier for the her to hate you than me.”
“I’m going to fight this. And win.”
“I guess we’ll just have to let the court decide.”
Iris bought home a friend once. Her name was Judy. Judy’s mother had baked a pie for her to bring over. He smiled and thanked her. I love Meringues, he said. Iris never bought home a friend again.
Docter Iris Dally
What I Want to Be When I Grow Up, by Iris Dally. What I want to be when I grow up is a docter. Docter Iris Dally, nice to meet you. Bcause I want to help peple and make them feel good. And I want peple to have to wait for me like I had to wait for docter S. last Toosday. And I want daddy to know I’m a good girl and take me to theebs park like he promised. That is why I want to be a docter.
Iris was on her birth bed, innocently catching her mother’s tears – A tear of love, another for hope, and one to hate. Iris’s mother waited nine months with love and through thirteen hours of labour, but he still did not come. The last tear fell and she stopped waiting. As she watched their neonate staring blankly into the absent space, she named her. And that name was Iris.