Lately I’ve been wanting to write on the walls. Or, more precisely, lately I’ve been wanting to write on one particular wall, the wall at the foot of my bed. I’ve been lying in this room for more than three years, and that wall has been my constant – what? Companion? Hardly. Backdrop. Foreground. Keeper. Guard. Horizon. Limit. It’s the first thing I see when I open my eyes. It’s the wall that reminds me I’m surrounded by walls.
It’s painted white, with a white-painted door in the centre, and a white plastic light switch by the door. On the right hand side two paintings have been hung, blurry landscapes of the coast of Fife, low down so I can see them from my bed. I know them by heart. Other than that it’s a plain enough wall. It could use some colour. I was thinking pink felt tip to start. Then maybe purples and greens and blues.
I’d write down all the things I haven’t said in the last three years I’ve been lying here. All the things I didn’t say to my family, to friends, to Paul, to the health professionals who squinted at me from chairs at the end of my bed. Sometimes I’ve kept quiet because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re sick. No one wants to hear a sick person tell the truth about how they feel or what their day has been like. More often though it’s my illness that’s kept me quiet. Most days I’m not well enough to have visitors or talk on the ‘phone or post on Facebook. I can’t hold a conversation for more than a few minutes. There’s a lot I haven’t said. So I’d write down Thank You and Fuck this and I miss you and I love you and It hurts and I’m afraid and How are you and I wish I could see you and I wish things were different and I wish I was dead and I’m angry and I love you and I’m still here and I’M NOT FINE.
I have a vision of the wall covered in words, glorious in pinks and purples and blues and greens. Like an art installation. Or a memorial. Something to show for the three years I’ve been in this room. If I wrote one word for each day I’ve spent lying here, there’d be more than 1,000 words on the wall. I know it’s only graffiti, only a kind of I woz ‘ere, but sometimes it’s hard to believe that I was. Not for all those days and weeks and months.
Paul doesn’t want me to write on the wall. Not because then there’d be writing on the wall of our bedroom; as he says, we can always paint over it. He thinks that if I started to write on the walls, people would think I’d gone crazy. Or, more precisely, he thinks that only crazy people write on their walls, and so by definition, if I wrote on the walls, I’d be crazy. But I’d always thought that crazy people were crazy because they didn’t know what they were doing was crazy, whereas I know that writing on the walls isn’t a ‘normal’ thing to do. Unless you’re a toddler. Or a prisoner – except that prisoners count down the days, while I’m adding them up. I don’t yet have a release date. And besides, my situation isn’t ‘normal’. What would count as a sane response to being trapped in a room for more than 1,000 days, silent, in silence, and alone?
I’m thinking I could start by writing on the wall behind the paintings. If no one can see it, does it count?