The Most Important Hug in the Universe

Every so often, Keri finds herself surprised by the back her own hands. Never more so than now, as her arthritis-crippled fingers lie softly on her husband-of-fifty-one-years’ wrist, wrinkles and distended veins illuminated by sunlight stifling through cream, nondescript blinds. She hates coming here. She hates seeing Geoff trapped in this pod, this storage facility. He is a bicycle, seen as long past the point of repair, thrown into a garage to rust and decay. Her eyes flit around the room. Cream carpets, cream bed-spread. Pine drawers and wardrobe. A picture of off-yellow flowers in a cream vase hangs upon the cream wall in a pine frame. Everywhere she turns, her vision is near-obscured by tiny dust particles buzzing in the air, brought to attention by the light which forces its way into the room, interloping.

She tuts, noticing a used plate upon the pine table, yellow streaks and gristle betraying the nurses’ near neglect. It’s one o’clock now, she fumes internally. Why the hell is his breakfast plate still there? As she stands to walk across the threadbare carpet, she feels Geoff’s grip on her palm tighten, his other hand raising to paw at her.

‘Have you seen my wife?’ He’s still just my lost, handsome, little boy. A tear meanders over her laugh lines.

‘I’m right here, angel,’ lifting a hand to stroke his cheek. ‘I’m always here, baby boy.’

‘She was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known,’ the words struggle out of his mouth, laden with decades of truth. As if a weight has been lifted, Geoff slumps back into his cream-upholstered armchair, exhaling noisily before looking back up at Keri with little-boy-lost eyes. ‘Have you seen my wife?’

‘Tell me about her.’ Keri winces a little as she sits back down and once again rests an aching hand on his.

‘She was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known. Inside and out.’

‘How did we meet, snuffle?’

fuck me this trip better be worth it 6 hours on a damn coach ball soup that’s what they call it I mean it’s two thousand and twelve you think they’d have air conditioning now has May ever been this hot she better turn up soon I said the Hilton it’s a bloody big hotel it’s not hard to miss I could do with a pint I need to get this suitcase down soon I’m either an inch too tall for it or it’s an inch too small either way it’s a pain in the hole she better turn up soon I can’t wait to finally meet her

Geoff Moriarty posted on his timeline
28 March 2012
Hospital done and dusted. All six teeth out and I feel surprisingly alright, though I know the worst is yet to come. For tea, chicken soup, instant mash and beans and strawberry mousse. I am le starving!
Keri-Ann Edwards B A-hons commented
and pork scratchings…;p xx

really can’t wait to finally meet her she just gets me I’d love to be able to call this woman my girlfriend I practically see her that way anyway my god the amount of wanks I’ve had about her is almost shameful probably best not to use that as a conversational opening gambit it might actually go down well though I think she’s a bit twisted like me is there a decent pub nearby that car needs to hurry up so I can cross over come on speedy don’t start now suitcase keep straight it was a curb not a cliff is that her

‘You know what? This is heaven right now.’ Geoff leans down to kiss Keri on the forehead, sweat sweet on his lips.

‘What is?’ Keri’s walnut eyes feast upon his. She shifts her weight to snuggle into the crook of his shoulder deeper, the light creeping through the small alcove window causing ripples as it snakes through her shoulder-length, obsidian hair.

‘Well right now,’ he moves down the bed and presses his nose against hers, ‘the entire world is turning below us. People are getting into cars or onto buses, picking up something for tea, queuing at a bar, worrying about the group of chavs on the corner. You know, whatever the nest of pigs think about on a day-to-day and here we are, wrapped up in our own little cocoon, just me and you and nothing else, and there’s nowhere I’d rather be.’

‘That’s beautiful. You’re beautiful.’

‘Well, me, you and your boobies.’

TThat is her my god so much black how is she not melting who does she think she is with those sunglasses Neo I must have them I’m going to have to put this suitcase down when I get to her what do I do when I get there is it a handshake or a hug or are we just going to say aight and walk off well I’m going to have to decide soon maybe I should ask her if she fancies the pub two more steps now

Shopping list
(for my baby boy who I love lots and lots)
xx x x x x x x x x

Eggs                                                                         Bring me yourself
Fishie fingers                                                         back quickly, that’s
Chicken nuggets                                                    the best and most
Bread ?                                                                    important bit.
Potatoes
Onions
A chicken ?
Mushrooms
Something Chocolatey ?                                      (You don’t have to get this)

The hiss of the shower dies. ‘Are you OK in there, baby?’ Keri calls to Geoff amid the incessant chatter of knitting needles.

‘Yeah I’m grand. I’ll be through in a minute.’

‘OK, baby.’ Cute aggression travels from the living room to the bathroom. In the corner Simon, a Japanese peace lily, sits photosynthesising as Geoff pads over the carpet, hirsute chest matted and sparkling with drops as sunlight gushes in through the French doors, a worn-white towel wrapped round his waist.

‘Hey you,’ Geoff calls with impish charm as he stands in front of Keri. She looks up from the scarf she has started and restarted to see him standing proud with the towel lifted up, displaying his rear end for possibly the entire street to see.

That’s your bum.’

‘Yes!’

‘That’s naughty, that is.’ Keri beams at the sight then lets her eyes drop back down to the tangle of wool on her lap.

‘No. This is naughty.’ Keri’s gaze is forced back up to the visage of Geoff bending over, hands on buttocks, pulling them apart.

‘Oh dear Christ.’

‘What? This is true love, this is.’

I never want this hug to end this is the first and most important hug in the universe I never want this hug to end this is the first and most important hug in the universe I never want this hug to end this is the first and most important hug in the universe I do need to wash my balls I never want this hug to end

‘Have you seen my wife?’ A fresh tear follows the track of its predecessor as Keri can see Geoff’s worry lines working overtime, confusion spat all over his face. Feeling the overwhelming need for some fresh air, Keri relinquishes her faint hold on his hand and decides to clear the breakfast plate away. As she struggles to her feet and turns, she is startled by a hand which suddenly appears on her posterior. Looking down at the hand, she follows the dressing gown-covered arm up to the shoulder and then up to Geoff’s face, where she can see the roguish smile and twinkle she has not seen for too long.

‘I’ve got your bum,’ is all Geoff offers as he flashes his not so pearlies in her direction, the smile fading slightly into concentration as he tries to squeeze his hand into her.

‘That’s terribly naughty, Geoff,’ laughing softly.

‘Nope.’ Geoff falters to his feet and moves his other hand to her chest, ‘I got your boob too.’

‘I love you, snuffle.’

‘I love you too, baby girl.’ They both lean forwards tentatively for a tender, moistureless peck on the lips, falling into a gentle embrace.

I never want this hug to end this is the first and most important hug in the universe
I never want this hug to end this could be the last and most important hug I ever have

The embrace ends and they stand looking into each other’s eyes, pale grey and walnut fusing together.

‘Have you seen my wife? She was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known.’

Christopher Moriarty

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