The telephone rang and Kumiko answered before it could ring twice.

The voice on the other end was urgent. ‘Mrs Marsden, it’s the hospital. Can you get here quickly?’

Although she’d known for some days that this moment would come, Kumiko’s heart plummeted. Henry must be fading fast. She threw her coat on and grabbed her handbag. The car was parked outside. She got in and, suppressing sobs, stopped only at the florists on the corner to buy a beautiful red rose, the closest she could get to a peony, just a day or so from being in full bloom.

The nurse on reception took her to the private room. Henry lay, eyes half closed, the skin on his face like parchment, his sparse white hair matted to his head. As she came into his view, his cracked lips mouthed, ‘Kumiko, darling…’

Bravely fighting her tears, she showed him the rose. ‘For you, Darling,’ unable to avoid the comparison with the energetic young rugby-playing buck whom she’d first met at the party in Tokyo celebrating the merger of their two employers so many years ago.

Henry’s lips crinkled into a near-smile and his eyes brightened. He reached out and their right hands met, fingers familiarly entwining. He mouthed, ‘I love you,’ before his eyes closed slowly as if taking in the final vision of his wife of sixty years, before he gave a deep sigh and was gone.

Kumiko remembered her mother’s words to her on the death of her father. ‘The soul,’ she had asserted, ‘takes with it to eternity the last earthly words it hears.’

She leant over him and whispered in his ear, ‘I love you,’ then in her own tongue and her mother’s, ‘Aishi teru.’


Kumiko sat up long into the night and the eastern skies were lightening when she finally picked up her pen and wrote in her diary the words she would later inscribe on a plain card to go, along with the rose, with Henry to his grave.

The songs of my heart
Spirit and soul are with you
Always my Darling

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    Carrie OLeary
    Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
    1 year ago

    Beautiful story, Allan, and written with great sensitivity. I did like your Haiku at the end ?

    Greene M Wills
    Greene M Wills(@greene-m-wills)
    1 year ago

    Very sweet and so poignant, Allan, I really loved it!

    Margarida Brei
    Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
    1 year ago

    Very moving story, Allan.

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    1 year ago

    I couldn’t stop my tears from dripping. Your story is very touching. Well done. 

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    Reply to  Allan Neil
    1 year ago

    You are welcome, Christer.

    Christer Norrlof
    Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
    1 year ago

    A sad and romantic story, Allan, very enjoyable to read. It seems to be about an English man, married to a Japanese woman. Are there facts behind the relationship and the setting that you would like to share with us? I love the final, very emotional haiku.

    Christer Norrlof
    Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
    Reply to  Allan Neil
    1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing, Allan. Henry and Kumiko would have been very happy to see how you have honored their memory by writing this inspired story. You are right that old memories can be revived and developed into nice, interesting stories.

    Thompson Emate
    Thompson Emate(@thompson-emate)
    1 year ago

    A nice and touching story. I love the haiku that ends the story.

    Linda Rock
    Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
    1 year ago

    Beautiful Haiku, Allan and a wonderfully touching story.

    Sandra James
    Sandra James(@sandra-james)
    1 year ago

    Oh so sad, but a love we all dream of. Despite my misty eyes, I really enjoyed your story and haiku, Allen. A fitting conclusion. Well done!

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