The Iron Lady flickered across the screen in a hazy projection of bitter doggedness filtered through dementia. Jane nodded in and out, a bit like the character herself. The names rang distant bells but it was difficult to remember for whom they once tolled. Janet suddenly seemed so far away as she groaned at the bulky TV set in the gloomy corner, cringing as Reagan smiled on unawear while behind his back and in front of his nose, atrocities were permitted with the fleeting forgetfulness of Nancy’s footsteps slithering from beneath her ball gown.
Janet had them labeled as bitter, hard, soul-less creatures with the allure of a vampire. This illusive illusion of charm clung to their aura with the clinging coyness of a blood stain. They had become vampires and like all those who survive time, their blood-letting had been all too easily forgotten. They were looked back at, not with the anger they deserved, but with a fondness for, supposedly, the better times, the greater leaders that peer out from behind the rose-tinted sheen of forgetfullness. A few grateful sheep on a distant island were enough to keep memory of them intact while their own withered away. Both, of course, were equally untrustworthy. Collective memory could play as many tricks as one stretched mind. The Iron Lady smiled as she picked up photos and vaguely remembered who she had once been, or who she felt she had once been, or who she thought she may once have been while the film attempted the same, with a glittering array of carefully crafted images packed together like cards carefully shuffled to win.
Jane had her own card tricks. Her eyes misted suddenly. Not the film, it withered on agelessly beyond the corner of her eye, but the sensation that her own pack had reached completion. There would be no more jokers. She would have to find the last laugh all by herself. Janet would have willed it that way. Or was willing it that way. The tenses failed. The combinations swirled through her head quicker than the picture frames on the screen. She didn’t need Dolby to hear Janet in her ear, all those years ago, soothing as a child, scolding as a Thatcherite, loving as a form that had never left her brain. The cards kept coming, more recently via the internet so she had to print them herself. An umbilical cord stretched, or thrown out to a creature from the distance, in the hope of keeping them close, safe, a life raft in case the water turned turbulent.