‘Well, my dear, I suppose that’s the only promise you couldn’t keep.’
I shut off the alarm clock and draw the curtain to allow the lazy dawn light to filter in. I gaze down at him, my dead husband. Somehow I always thought he would outlive me. He was always the strong one, the macho man who went out in the world to work for us, and then came home and let his baby daughter make him smile again. He was never a great one for promises, but those he made he always kept. Except when he said, ‘I will never leave you alone again, ever.’
Suppose he couldn’t help it.
As I have done every day now for a while, I raise his body up on the pillows and help him with his trousers and shirt. He isn’t any less communicative than usual; not a morning person, my man. And he’s had a spot of bother with his legs since that fall last June.
‘We’ll have toast and coffee in bed today, shall we? Since you’re not feeling up to a trot to the coffeeshop like we planned yesterday. You just stay comfy, and I’ll take in a tray and read you the newspaper.’
The coffee machine was a gift from our girl. Such a fancy, shiny thing! When we were used to stirring black stuff and sugar into hot water for the past forty-seven years. ‘Forty-seven years! It’s been that long, my dear, since you laughed at my horrible puffy-sleeved wedding dress, do you remember? It was all the rage back then.’
I spread the kaya jam and butter thinly on. We used to like a nice thick wodge of butter. But when the doctors start nagging…
Ah, what the hell. I add more butter. A little change in our morning routine.
‘Here’s breakfast! Let’s see what’s in the news today. Ah. You were right. They caught the Ferrari driver, the one from the accident last week. That WAS his mistress. Ah, but I got this one right – that TV star really did get breast implants. I told you! We women always know.’
I read to him a little more, till the clock strikes seven.
‘Well,’ I say cheerfully, ‘I suppose it’s time to report in to the senior citizen’s center. I’ll go brush my teeth and get changed.’
I do my hair a little differently, too. Not much of it left now. I try to keep it neat, at least.
‘All right. Are you ready? I’ll call in now.’ I know the number by heart. Our girl programmed it into the fancy handphone she gave me, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to work it. ‘Hello? Hi, it’s Mira. I’m afraid Mr Suli is not feeling very well today, so we won’t be coming in this morning. Oh, oh yes, if you could send someone over to see him that would be helpful. Thank you so much, dear.’
I unlock the front door, leave it shut but not bolted. I must take my pills.
‘Well, it’s been a bit of a change from our normal morning routine, hasn’t it, dear?’
I must take my pills.
What a lovely morning.
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