The Empath

The carer. Bought in at a cost to take out a young disabled girl once a week for a couple of hours. Middle-aged. Grey hair in a bob cut. Sturdy shoes, pastel clothes, ambiguous fashion, neither outdoorsy or office wear. Kind of functional. As she is.

The young girl is autistic. Pretty high up there on the spectrum – not like the fashion of nowadays, ‘We’re all on the autistic spectrum.’ She is doubly incontinent and can only speak short, clipped sentences which don’t really describe anything of use. She wears diapers full time. Avoids eye contact. Goes to a specialist school.

The carer is Scottish. She hates having to work for people she thinks are below her. The young people on her caseload ‘have too much money,’ it’s ‘an easy life for them…..all latest mobile phones, clothes, nice bedsits.’ The young girl isn’t deaf but the carer shouts childish pseudo-babble at her, then tips others a wink as if to say, ‘Aren’t I cleverer than her…. What a poor stupid vegetable.’ She loathes the fact that the death of her husband several years ago has forced her into the job market, and her skills and experience precluded her from anything she perceives as worthy. No more trips to Dubai, or chances to look down her nose at the ‘foreigners’. Washboard face, scrubbed with carbolic soap at night by hands still wearing a wedding ring and bracelet he bought her in Singapore when the going was good. Too many memories, zipping along in the mirror in the twilight. She scrubs the filth of the needy away and sighs. ‘What a world.’

Outside, in her tiny car, she wheels away from the housing unit tapping lightly on the steering wheel and looking forward to a time when somebody, anybody, takes her away from the scum of the earth. Voting ‘out’ a requirement for any suitor. No tolerance. Got to hate like she does. Got to like Trump. The little engine revs and she drives off down the valley to the small house she keeps as a shrine to the old days. NO crying in there, no sadness, just bitter rabid energy permeating the stone walls and the guttering as it gurgles down the winter rain. Alone. Fed with jealousy and teetotal chastity, greying daily, ruddy face glowing under a bitter stone cold sun in the autumn of her directionless life.

There are times when I feel sorry for her, but not many. There’s a horror in somebody who turns on the vulnerable when their own life got tough. Say what you like about me, but no matter how hard it ever got I never voted Tory/Trump/hatred of the poor and the ethnically diverse.

But what does it matter? There is always karmic retribution kicking about there in the ether like a big saggy balloon, ready to swamp the unwary. I’ll leave it to those righteous cosmic laws to take the spite away from people like her – the really disgusting human beings out there. I’m off to make fairy cakes with the young girl from above. We’ll laugh as we’re doing it, and we’ll enjoy every moment; both of us experiencing the simple joy of being with somebody we know has an empathy for us. After all, I know what it’s like to be laughed at by idiots, marginalised, dependent on someone else – usually paid – to look after you when times are bad.

‘Why not have empathy for the carer?’ I don’t know. Should I have? Am I wrong? Nah. I’m ok with things the way they are here. Right is right, and I can smell evil a mile away, even when it’s dressed as as middle-aged Scottish woman in pastels.

I guess, deep down, there is hope for me.

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