By Nicky C White
I stroll through Jubilee Gardens, past couples and young families picnicking, laughing, and chattering on the freshly mowed lawns. I inhale the sweet smell of the orange lilies wafting through the air and feast my eyes on the blankets of pink moss phlox plants paving the way to London’s iconic capsule—the London Eye, turning gently, but looking as majestic as ever sitting on the south bank of the River Thames. I leave the din of the crowds in the gardens and step into the capsule just after having one last look at the array of colors behind me. I decide to sit at the back and rummage through my bag to look for my most precious possession—my purple fur-lined journal. I begin to write with my glittery pen, while the big wheel starts to rotate and hum, showing me, bit by bit, the magnificent views London has to offer, including the spectacular red sunset over the City’s famous skyline.
21st March 2021
My John is dead six months now. Heart attack at thirty-nine. Isn’t that unbelievable? Or maybe not. I blame it on his long hours driving that bloody number thirteen bus and the daily fry-ups. Or his long hours watching back-to-back episodes of Eastenders, slumped on the living room couch sipping orange-flavored hot chocolate.
“Passengers still miss John, you know, his friend Paul told me over a coffee the other day.
From Mrs. Bailey who gets the number thirteen bus every afternoon to attend her bridge class to the drunk guffawing teenagers occupying the back seats on a Saturday night, all of these passengers left touching messages on his Facebook wall. “You’ll be sorely missed John,” wrote Alan, the teenager who always boarded the bus tipsy on John’s route from the city center to Alan’s neighborhood. “What a shock to hear of your demise, dear John,” posted Mrs. Bailey.
The Gherkin, towering over the other skyscrapers in London’s financial district, catches my eye, but it’s partially obscured by offices and apartment blocks. I cannot quite read the time on the Big Ben as I forgot to bring my specs along. The Tate Museum of Modern Art comes to view soon after. The architecture of this building very much reminds me of work—my local library where I restock the half-empty shelves, just before I clock out at 5:30 p.m. I’m listening to my playlist on Spotify. Nothing more relaxing than listening to music, even though I still cry when I listen to John’s Roy Orbison and U2 CDs. I am oblivious to the twenty-something persons occupying the same capsule space as me, and oblivious to the couple kissing and cuddling, I disregard the spicy floral smell of”‘Poison” Christian Dior perfume wafting from the slim, elegant woman sitting to my right.
How long does it take to get over your husband’s loss? A year? Two years? Five years?
I visit his grave every month and always lay a different bunch of flowers, depending on my feelings: red roses when I feel the love or purple hyacinths when I am engulfed by sorrow.
The London Eye—John’s favorite spot in London. Through the window of my capsule I can see the reddish-orange sunset casting silhouettes over St. Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace.
I close my diary, step out of the Ferris wheel, and make my way towards the cemetery. Today I lay a bunch of daffodils. I leave a note among the flowers.
I head home, switch on my laptop, and google “best cities to live in.” Dublin comes up—one of my favorite cities. I log into daft.ie and filter for one or even two-bedroomed apartments. One thousand, three hundred forty-six listings come up. I’ll start going through them in the morning. I power down my laptop, walk into the kitchen, and boil the kettle. As I am dipping the Earl Grey tea bag into my Harrods mug, I notice a starling soar past the oak trees across the street. Who knows where this beautiful bird is heading?