The Mirror on the Wall – 627 words
And so it began. Her nightly ritual. Cup of tea on the bedside table. Pillows plumped up against the bedhead. Bedside light tilted ‘just so’ so it wouldn’t shine in his eyes when he went to sleep. Book at the ready. Mary settled back into the pillows. This was her catch-up time, when she shared her ‘daily doings’ as she called them, with him.
‘Did I tell you I ran into Janet McEvoy the other day?’ she said. ‘She has four grand-children now – three boys and finally a little girl – bet she’ll be spoilt rotten. She said Jim’s knees are still giving him hell – looks like he might have to have an Arthroscope. Poor Janet – she’ll be run off her feet looking after him. Don’t envy her that – he’d be a terrible patient!’
She lifted the cup to her lips and took a sip. She loved the soothing sensation of the warm Camomile tea as it slid down her throat, it never failed to comfort and relax her.
Replacing the cup on the bedside table she went back to her book. ‘I really like Wilbur Smith’s books – especially the Courtneys! I think they’re the only books I’ve ever seen you read from front cover to back. Funny how you only like reading biographies and I like fiction.’
Mary smiled. Their interests were so different, but their relationship was totally symbiotic. They were a team. Had been for over 50 years. Yin and Yang. Bogie and Bacall. They’d traversed life’s rocky road with all its ups and downs, worked hard, made money, spent money, laughed together and cried together, but on balance had had a wonderfully rewarding life. Oh, they argued like all couples, but for the most part they always made up before they went to sleep, and tomorrow was always another day.
‘Oh! And I forgot to tell you. I spoke to Ginnie today. She’s hoping to come up for a bit of a holiday when term finishes.’ She closed her eyes and pictured her spirited Granddaughter – all grown up, fiercely independent and totally embracing her first year of Uni. She sighed – ‘It’ll be so nice to see her.’
‘Gosh. I remember the day she was born. Our first Grandchild and we were soooo excited! Do you remember?’ Mary’s eyes flew open and she laughed. ‘You nearly ran into the back of that car you were in such a hurry to get to the hospital and see her. And there was our Elizabeth, sitting up in bed as proud as punch. Our baby having her own baby. Such a beautiful memory. I remember – you cried.’
‘Frustrating isn’t it.’ She smiled wryly. ‘I can remember things that happened twenty, thirty, even fifty years ago, but have trouble remembering why I walked into a room.’
She paused. Closed her eyes again. A soft smile played on her lips and she could still see him standing there at the end of the aisle, waiting for her to join him to pledge the rest of their lives together. Her heart fluttering, his smile lighting up the Church, her dress a dreamy creamy silk, her bouquet a small posy of blush coloured roses. The same roses he presented her with every Anniversary thereafter.
A little shiver ran through her as she replaced her bookmark and closed her book – not having turned a page. She rolled over to turn out the light and as with every night before, the mirror on the wall reflected the stark reality that had been her life for these past 5 years since his passing. The other side of the bed was cold and empty and as darkness settled on the room she let the tears fall.