Care
Written by
Rachael Young
Story by
Ebi Simpson
Performed by
Toyin Ayedun-Alase

Care

Ebi cares, but she’s exhausted. Exhausted from her job at the hospital, exhausted by the pandemic, exhausted by being left alone in the dark. How can she care for her daughter when all she does is care?

Story
Audio description – performed by Kayla Meikle
Map
location
Story
Transcript
Story transcript

I’ve lived here for years and yet no one knows my name

Go to bed at 9 am – up at 5pm
Feed her, feed me
she’s unusually quiet, has been for a while now
It’s unusual, but maybe expected given the circumstances.

I sort out my uniform
Select socks
Comfy bra
Even comfier shoes

An hour later it’s back to work
Closing the door of my house to open another
Expecting the familiar, instead, an emptiness, desertion, a bareness only equal to the supermarket aisle when the pandemic first hit
No, bread no, milk, just bla(cks)

We patrol these wards when no one else will
Looking for the faces familiar as smile lines
The rustle of bed sheets, shuffle of feet, delusional shouts – the shrill shrieks of disorientation, a mind caught in confusion
Instead, my own footstep ricochet off stones floors, rattle through pipes and under beds search in cupboards and in bedsheets for warm wrinkled flesh wrapped around blue veins Veins that map bodies from life through to death

De(ath) I imagine is the cause of this emptiness
We stay silent
Communicate this tragedy
Through blinks and lowered heads
The fear we feel is real breath

(Sings)
When through the woods and forest glades I wander 2nd to LT

We patrol these wards
Tiredness that cuts into bones like February chill
I’m not worried about me, I only worry about my daughter
I do worry for me but not in front of my daughter
I can’t stop
Worrying
Is she ok when she is at home, alone?
Even when I’m there I’m not
Caught in sleep
It wraps itself around my bones, like ice sheets on pavements
I’m encased in slumber
Safe, free from reality, from anxiety
Sleep thick, leaves me foggy
I’m there for others, but no longer there for her
Caring for others, with no comfort left for her
In my dreams, she’s lost
On a seafront with friends
Moving in groups under street lamps
Boys getting fresh in the shadows
Hands tracing parts of her body that grew too fast for her age
She wouldn’t do that
I’ve raised her sensible, stoic
The fear creeps in again
This time images of cider and white pills disappearing into mouths
Giving a sense of invincibility
Walking along railings
Skinny dipping in a rough black sea
Half cut and out of control
This sleep it chokes these thoughts to the surface
Has me believing that up is down and down is-
Stop, Stop it
STOP she says as she’s bundled into the back of a car
Broken tail lights and stolen plates
I’m caught between sleep and a Netflix Crime Documentary
Night terrors weigh me down like ocean waves, as I’m momentarily at the surface gulping for air

(Sings) internal
When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze:

I’m hot, burning like hair on chicken wings
Clothes dripping like ice cream on sunny days
I’m a soggy cone collapsing in on myself
Chest tight like shoe laces
Is this panic or virus?
Or virus and panic
I force my eyes open
Blink in the darkness
Blink shapes into focus
I’ve fallen asleep on the sofa again
Nothing makes sense

I lived here for years before some asked my name

Ebi, I say
Ebi nice to meet you, I’m Kev
He glances at my uniform again
Thanks for what you’re doing he says

Yes, I say