Listening(6)
Author:A. F. McKeating

    Her friends stopped visiting.

    She awoke one night, alone and afraid. The stomach pains felt worsethan before. She crept to his room, seeking comfort.

    His bed was unmade. The house was silent.

    She listened to old age creeping back, whispering over her shoulderin the darkness. She crept back to her own bed and cried.

    He was there when she awoke the following morning.

    “You’ve lived too long,” his eyes said as he slipped from theroom.

    She poured the peppermint tea into the vase. The daisies wilted.

    She lay back against the pillow sadly. He returned.

    “Are you all right, my love?” he asked, his eyes bright withinterest.

    “Don’t fret about an old woman,” she murmured.

    She listened to the afternoon silences of the empty house. She madesecret forays to the kitchen.

    She found a small bottle lurking at the back of a cupboard. Shemixed the contents into his coffee and refilled the bottle withwater.

    He brought her lilies.

    “Not long now,” he said with a comforting smile. “By spring,it’ll all be over.”

    She sipped the peppermint tea and smiled at him serenely. He drankhis coffee on the veranda.

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