‘At first it was slow. I noticed, in those moments when we shared the daily cryptic, her mouth would droop, she would stop speaking mid-sentence for a few seconds.’ I shuffle in my seat. ‘Over time the illness quickened,’ like a black fog rolling under a door, or a mind filling with ants.

They sit opposite me. He needs a shave. She folds her hands together and rests them on her lap. Small, neat hands.

‘Can you talk about that morning?’ Her voice has softened as though she is counselling me.

‘I ran her a bath. The carer was coming. I put bubble bath in.’ Blue, frothy, the smell of a breeze through cotton. ‘We were married fifty-four years ago, at a rather lovely old church in Over Hulton. The day was icy and a couple of people slipped on the flat gravestones. We tried not to laugh.’

There is a ringing sound, maybe from the overhead lighting, or maybe only I can hear it. I can smell body odour and cold coffee.

‘She was such a beauty when she was younger. And all through her life. But these last few years…’ Something catches in my throat. ‘Some philosophers argue that to be considered a person someone should have self-awareness; be aware of their past, be capable of making plans for the future, be able to decide for themselves what they want to do.’

‘What do you think, Mr Jeffries?’ She places her hands on the table. I feel she wants to reach out and take my hands in hers. Small hands like my wife’s.

‘I carried her to the bathroom. She looked at me as though we were on our honeymoon. It was peaceful. She didn’t struggle.’

I sit back in my chair. My solicitor touches me gently on the shoulder.

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    3 years ago

    This is such a well-written story. I love what isn’t said – Flash Fiction is so great for that, and you’ve used the form with great skill. Even after I read the last sentence, I had to revisit the entire story in my mind several times and consider all the possibilities. Thanks for a good read, and allowing me to fill in the blanks.

    Carrie OLeary
    Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
    3 years ago

    I really like how you build up this story. At the beginning you have this feeling of sadness, the loss of a person to dementia. As it progresses, you start to understand just what is happening. Great execution. And congratulations

    Sandra James
    Sandra James(@sandra-james)
    3 years ago

    Beautifully written about such a cruel disease. Sadly, my Mum has Alzheimer’s and several other relatives who have now passed. As you get older you realise the shock you might have once felt at such an ending has changed to the reality that it actually takes kindness and courage. Thank you!

    Lyric The Great
    Lyric The Great(@lyric-the-great)
    3 years ago

    This story is so interesting! The things that aren’t written are the things that make me so interested and want to continue reading. There are so many ways that the story could go on, and so many things that I have to fill in with my imagination!

    musing mind
    musing mind(@musing-mind)
    3 years ago

    I could not stop reading over and over again and every time, I felt like I discovered something new. Very nice story and beautifully written. Seeing long-lived partners in this condition gives me too much pain.

    Susan Dawson
    Susan Dawson(@susan-dawson)
    2 years ago

    Your story is elevated by its complexity. Second reading becomes illuminating after the ending at first read through.

    Eric Radcliffe
    Eric Radcliffe(@eric-radcliffe)
    2 years ago

    It must really hard for a writer to try to experience the feelings of those who have to live through this terrible disease. Well written, Jackie.

    Linda Rock
    Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
    2 years ago

    The revelation at the end of your story invokes so many emotions. But It is the narrator’s devotion and love for his wife, that comes through so vividly throughout your story, that enables us to truly understand his decision… his final act of love. Really well written.

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    2 years ago

    Congratulations on this one. I agree with Carrie OLeary, what a great execution you did on this story.

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