Malcolm sits in his favourite chair and looks at the room that surrounds him. The objects are dusty, and he guesses that the cleaning woman hasn’t been this week. He can’t remember how much he is paying her.
He should get up, should leave, should go for a walk. It would be good for him. But somehow he can’t manage to pull himself to his feet. Somehow he can’t find any interest in the world outside the room he sits in.
He realises that he’s become the sort of man he used to feel sorry for. Somehow his life had simplified to work and sleep. There are no distractions anymore, no interests that bring colour to his life. The interests he used to enjoy just remind him of the people he’s lost.
There’s a chill in the air, but he doesn’t shiver. His mind is filled with memories, crumpled pictures fading around the edges. He thinks of Tom and Zoe and Danny. Of Fiona and Sam. Of Ruth. Of Colin.
He wonders if it’s time to move on, time to move to a job where the people around him don’t die and disappear. He could make new friends, try new things; bring a little bit of colour into his life.
But he knows it won’t happen. The service is his life now, the only thing he knows. He’ll sit there, doing his job, watching the people around him come and go. Then he’ll retire, take the service pension, return to his house. He’ll read books and work in his garden and fix the occasional computer as a favour for friends. He’ll use words and flowers to fill the holes in his life. He’ll tell himself that this is okay.
He’ll tell himself that this was the life he was supposed to live.