Sylvie and Mary can’t dance, but they love to watch the ballet. They book up the whole season and always come together to see the shows. It’s important that they sit right at the back because they find the stairs ‘unforgiving’.
Bright and young, at 21 they met in an art gallery. Time then sashayed, twirled and leaped forward into an embrace with their 89th year. Nowadays, Mary (who is the more robust of the two) cares for her friend. She repeats all the things that Sylvie cannot hear, sorts her 50ps from the 20ps, and holds her hand to guide her to a seat. Sylvie and Mary stage their own private, protective production, as they speak in the right direction, volume and proximity for the other one to hear.
‘Tell me dear, do you have body and soul together?’ Sylvie asked me once. I’m not too sure if I do, but how can you either Sylvie? It’s seems that the stitching between the body and soul frays as you get older. When your hands shake and scatter the change onto the counter, and your stride slows to a shuffle. Hair pins used to cling together in groups to secure your thick brown hair, but now they fall, because it’s hard to hold onto faint wisps of cobweb grey. Then you ‘take a fall’, so shoes get more sensible. Your laugh gets chased by a cough, and you can ‘feel it in your bones’ that the fabric is fraying. “What did you say dear?”