Screen Time

“Don’t waste your life watching television, Jimmy!”

His mother had said that to him several times a day from childhood. It was usually followed by a sigh. Even in her declining years, she remembered to nag him, but it made no difference. Jimmy loved television. He always had. It was no lazy option. He was a genuine enthusiast. He turned on and paid great attention to every show he watched from soaps, to quizzes, to documentaries and dramas. Every episode was a conscious choice, and his mind was fully engaged.

It was his life and was not wasted. The places he had seen, the stories and the characters filled his days better than family and friends ever did. True, they only existed on the screen, but real people vanished suddenly too. The dead only leave a memory, mused Jimmy, existing only in thought and who is to say that is the truth or reality if it is so easily lost. We all remember people differently, so TV is not very far-removed from a memory, he concluded.

Now in his declining years, he still enjoyed his main passion in life when others had had to painfully put down the gardening gloves, sell beloved cars and prized golf clubs. His mind was going. He knew that. He forgot things and made mistakes. More seriously, he saw characters about his house. They would talk but mostly they were just present. A spaceman stood silently in the kitchen as Jimmy prepared a cup of tea. Today he was struggling and anxious he would miss the start of the next show.

Feeling a little rough, he wandered into his front room, popped the tea down and sat down clumsily. Across the room sat Sherlock Holmes with puffing on his pipe, a moustached detective leant against the fireplace and Lassie lay stretched out on the rug.

The detective spoke, “Ah, monsieur! How are we exercising the petit grey cells tonight?”

“Yes. The quiz final to start with. Couple of minutes before it starts.” he replied, shakily. He clicked the button on the remote then rested his eyes.

Sitting down had not made him feel better. He felt worse. Energy had drained. Everything seemed somewhat distant. Fading away. Dizziness. Darkness. Silence. How long had he been like this? Was he asleep? No… I am too aware, he thought. His mind felt sharper than it had ever been. Then a small dot of light appeared in the distance. It grew in brightness and size as it slowly moved towards him. It felt familiar, warm and good. He was not afraid.

The quiz show’s theme tune played. With a jolt, Jimmy returned fully back into his body. Heart beating and eyes blinking he sat up straight.

“One more episode. One more.”

“Of course, monsieur! Of course.” chuckled his companion.