Geraint and Dai:  from  Spirits of Sanctuary



In all these years, Geraint had never lost his soldier's bearing.  His back was as straight as his razor blade was precise every morning when he shaved.  No fancy electric do-dads for him.  He needed the right blade, the best shaving soap and the handy mirror provided as standard in his retirement home room.  


His morning shave was as much muscle memory as it was ritual.  In the background, the Radio 4 Today programme rolled out news he would prefer not to hear.  Rather than turn it off, he thought of other things  such as what book he might look for in the library that morning, or a conversation he had had with that nice Syrian assistant the home had hired.  What was her name? 


Never a self-regarding man, he liked order and harboured habits, but only those to be expected of a Welsh army officer, later charity boss,  who turned so much sooner than he thought possible into being a widower no longer able or willing to live alone.


The mirror confirmed  the success of his shave.  All facial hair no longer present, so all was correct.  As he finished off, he caught the reflection of Dai’s sleepy face.  Insufficiently awake to look lively, Dai was now leaning on Geraint, his chin on his shoulder, eyes half open.  As ever, it made Geraint smile.


No one in the home had a red dragon as a companion, certainly not one as red or as old as his.   Geraint had long accepted Dai’s happy invisibility.  It had become a joke they shared all through the years.  


Dai had appeared beside him on that day on a Falklands shore.   Sir Galahad, the Welsh Guards, his battalion in pieces.  'Nough said. Dai stood alongside him from then on, providing the courage he could no longer find in himself.



© Gaynor Kavanagh