Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Bitter Pill

Another for a competition on DS. Made my cry writing it... 

Anna sits in the small musty living room. The large windows look out over a small road, as old and forgotten as her, with deep cracks winding out across the surface. She remembers when it was new. They’d watched from the window, but now the deep rutting shows the echo of the decades gone. Looking up from the road, she gazes at the park and sighing, sits back in the chair, her gaze lingering on a man and woman, hand in hand. They laugh, making their way slowly through the knee-high grass –only weeds now, Anna thinks bitterly. Then they stop, gazing at each other with smiles on their lips and they kiss. Anna struggles to pull her gaze away, her eyes burning. But her gaze falls to the men in bright high-visibility jackets down on the pavement beside the entrance to her house, an even less welcome sight. How dare they come here, how dare they try to force her out? A condemned building indeed.

She looks to the vacant chair beside her, her empty teacup and the cup sitting untouched beside his chair. She pours two out of habit, even though she knows he’s not coming back. She fingers the handle of her teacup, thinking of the past.


He was sat in his chair, watching the birds. She’d been busying around him, cleaning, until he laughed feebly and asked her to sit with him. He thanked her with a kiss as she sat, though she had to lean into him to reach his lips. His hand shook violently with the weight of the teacup, and a splash of droplets spilled down his shirt. He sighed and she could see a glint of fear, of pain in his soft blue eyes. She put her hand over his, keeping the cup steady for him to drink. “Anna,” he croaked through the tears, “I think it’s almost time.” Her heart sank. “Take me to our special place, just once more?”

She did so. She wheeled his chair out, slowly, careful not to let him see the tears dripping from her face, she knew she needed to be strong for him, for now. She could cry when his agony was gone.

The chair snagged in the pot holes, and he gasped in pain. The rusty gates to the park towered over them, his chair bumping uncomfortably over the uneven grass. Their bench was hidden behind a row of trees, but it wasn’t yet spring, so visible through the branches. They sat, overlooking the river, and both wept. They held hands as they had done fifty years ago, and she looked down at her wedding ring, and the diamond he’d presented her with in this precise spot. “I love you,” She smiled at him. He smiled and nodded, his strength failing even the simplest of task. “Let’s go, my love.” He nodded feebly.

She tucked him into bed, stroking his hair as he drifted off. She cried freely, picking up the pillow, resenting what he’d asked her to do, resenting that she’d agreed, resenting the hand they’d been dealt. “I love you.”


They’re going to take her from this house, their first house, the first place they ever made love and had their first tiff. They’re going to put her in some nursing home and she’ll never again be able to sit in her chair and imagine him beside her.

There’s a knock at her door, and Anna rises slowly, resigned, with a tugging of remorse and sadness at her heart. Looking through the window she sees two strict looking men, one with a clip board, and the other in a white coat; a doctor. Tears begin to well up as she reaches to open the door, but the cool metal handle on her skin makes her remember the day he fitted it, and she shakes her head slightly, her jaw set, stubborn.

Looking through to her bedroom she can see the bed and, making her way through to it, she collapses into the spot where she killed her husband. Hugging the pillow, she imagines that it still smells of him, though the years have dulled the scent.

Imagining his face, she opens her eyes. Thinking of the moment he proposed, she sits, tears rolling over her cheeks. The thought of the years gone by, him aging and becoming ill, makes her open her drawer. Memories of his pain make her reach for the tub, which rattles with pills. Remembering his feeble struggles as she killed him brings her shaking fingers to prise it open, and the ten years without him makes her throw them to the back of her throat. They’ll never take her from their home.

Lying back, she waits to see her husband again.

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