The Gift
Written by
Shirley Falchi
Story by
Shirley Falchi
Performed by
Shirley Falchi

The Gift

Shirley struggles to recognise herself in the face of a global pandemic, the loneliest experience of her life. Are positive affirmations enough to will herself out of her anxious rut?

Audio description – performed by Kayla Meikle
Story transcript

The gift

Click – on
Click – off
Click – on
Click – off

The eyes are flickering. The awakening, the most difficult part of the day.

Open the eyes and to be here, surrounded by these walls that are your space now.

16 square metres, the measure of your new life. Then you go back in another time, when the metres were 116. That was before. Don’t think about it. Non pensarci.

The unmistakable scent of hot coffee is the same. The warm cup on your skin to remind you how everything else is so different now. Della vita di prima rimane solo l’odore del caffe’. Sulla pelle il calore della tazza.

What are you doing today? The fridge is open, almost nothing inside. You need some food. You need to go to the supermarket.

That’s your goal this morning.

Why you just stopped breathing, why are you so lost in your eyes, why is your heart jumping like a scared rabbit. What’s wrong with you?

Breathe. Respira.

I know, you just can’t stop this feeling, like you suddenly are a soldier in an invisible war without enemies. In danger, on the edge, lost, alone, fearing to lose your head and…who knows.

This anxiety is a new gift for you and you don’t know what’s happening in your nervous system. You don’t accept your situation. You don’t understand it.

Breathe. Respira.

Come closer. Vieni piu’ vicino.

Santo dio, guardati. Sembri proprio una casalinga disperata. Non potresti cercare di recuperare un po’ della tua femminilita’?

Do you remember the way you were? I do. I am the only one that really understands how you have changed. Cos’e’ quello sguardo spento, quasi chiuso da una palpebra senza vita. Those deep lines of melancholy from your nose to under your mouth. You don’t laugh anymore. It’s been a while since you’ve last laughed quanto mi piaceva la tua risata, cosi’ spontanea, senza riserve, una pioggia allegra sembrava. Now there are three perfectly parallel lines above the lips, one for each year far away from happiness.

You’re changed. To worse. You’re older. Of attempts. Of failures. Of solitude. Only the panic within you occupies the space that your life should occupy.

Ti ricordi com’eri? Riuscivi a sorridere sempre, a trovare un nuovo entusiasmo, una nuova forza per risolvere ogni situazione. Speravi nel futuro.

You could hope for the future. That was before. Prima.

Now you’re lost in the darkness. I don’t know how to save you, how to help you.

Come closer, please. I’m so sorry to see you so bad. To see how you just wear the first thing you can grab, you don’t care anymore. To go to the supermarket seems impossible now. You’re worried about what could happen. You’re ashamed of losing control. You want to go quickly, before it’s too much. Please, keep breathing now. Breathe. Respira. Respira.

Sometimes I wish to hug you, but you don’t want to. I hear your heart beating faster, waiting for fear, uncertainty. Then you grab your keys and mask and I just wish to cry. Because I remember you before. Com’eri prima. Because I have to tell you how you are now. Come sei adesso. I know you hate me for that. I know. Lo so.

I instead love you. Ti amo. Ogni giorno cerco di dirti che sei una meraviglia, un miracolo. You’re a miracle. Davvero. Your eyes fall on me just for a second, then you’re out. You are brave, you should know that. Sei coraggiosa.

I’ll wait for you here. Maybe you’ll return calmer and happier, maybe more desperate. It depends on how it will go.

Just remember that I love you. Try to love yourself too. I know you can. I know you will do. I’m here to help you and show you the truth. For ever.

With all my love. Con amore
Il tuo specchio (your mirror)

Your mirror