Copyright 2006 by Deborah Pass
This short story is based on a real life fact that came to my knowledge, but the characters and sentiments are entirely fictional.
Husband and wife for 60 years, Eddy and Betty were inseparable. They loved each other just as much as they did 61 years ago when they first started courting, young and carefree in spite of the war. Now they’d fallen into a routine but the spark was still there. Eddy would sometimes bring home a bunch of red roses with ‘My Darling Betty’ on a kitsch heart shaped card and Betty would make him his favourite steak and kidney pie. They still slept in the same bed, holding each other tightly during the long nights. They hadn’t had children, maybe they couldn’t, but it wasn’t something they dwelt upon. They had each other and that was enough.
Monday morning was like any other. Eddy was the first up and about, making a pot of tea and getting the toaster started. Betty would usually emerge 30 minutes later while the tea was brewing in the teapot and the toast browning in the toaster. Today was different, she didn’t come down. Eddy didn’t think anything about it. She’d had an agitated night tossing and turning, and was probably tired. The time passed and Betty still didn’t come down.
Eddy started up the stairs ready to tease her about her idleness. “Betty? Come on love the toast is burnt and the tea is stewed!”
The curtains were pulled closely, and Betty was still in bed, a formless shape in the darkened room. “Betty?” Eddy approached the bed and touched Betty’s hand. She was glacial. “Betty? Bett?” He pulled the covers off her and tried to wake her, he shook her, caressed her, shouted at her, but to no avail. Betty was dead. Tears streamed down Eddy’s face as he held her tightly in his arms, he was stunned. “How could you leave me Betty?” His frail arms were going numb from holding her so tightly. He brushed back her snow white hair from her forehead and kissed her gently, laying her back down on the bed. She looked so serene. He tucked the covers up round her neck then sat down in the old rocking chair next to the bed.
He’d have to call the doctor or someone, he wasn’t sure who, but it would have to be done eventually. Not now, he couldn’t bear to have her taken away so fast. He needed to say his goodbyes in his own time. Tomorrow he’d call, just one more day with her. His mind wandered back across the years, the souvenirs of their youth painful but strangely comforting. Her laugh the first time they'd gone to the seaside together, oh and that saucy bathing suite bright red that made all the lads whistle, 1948 that was he remembered. They'd returned every year to Southport since that day, maybe they should try Scarborough this year?
The day passed. Eddy didn’t move from his lonely vigil. Slowly he got up and looked out of the window, night had fallen. The bedside alarm showed eleven o’clock. He went downstairs and started making some tea when he noticed that he’d put out two mugs, he broke down again. He took the two mugs up to the bedroom and lay down besides his wife, one arm across Betty to keep her close to him. The next day dawned as usual, the world continued as if she'd never been there. Eddy awoke abruptly with the realisation that Betty was no more. He should call someone but he couldn’t do it yet, he wasn’t ready. Just one more day and he'll let her go
The days drifted into months, and Betty was still with him. Eddy was seen shopping and going about his daily routine. The neighbours crossed him at the florists more often than usual and exchanged a few words with him, they asked about Betty and he always answered that she was well. The police called after eight months, a worried neighbour rang they said. They were stunned by the hundreds of red roses everywhere in the bedroom and on the bed, all carrying kitsch heart shaped cards with the inscription ‘To My Darling Betty’.
I am 38 years old and I live in Paris . I was born
in Manchester , Britain and I left the UK when I was around twenty to
travel round Europe and experience the different sides of life. I
have had many occupations, the latest one teaching chess in schools
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