the door close as the priest left. He hoped Beryl
hadnt been listening at the door to his
last confession. That was the trouble with all
this absolution stuff: you had to get it off your
chest before you went, but you didnt want
the wifie hearing everything youd been up
room, Beryl straightened the curtains and then
right? she asked.
years of marriage, there wasnt much left to
say, even in these circumstances. Frank
desperately thought of something to say,
something to leave his wife with, but nothing
sleep now Frank. And with that she was gone.
sleep? Days to live; maybe hours even. There was
no way he was going to waste them sleeping. Frank
reached for the remote control and flicked on the
load of old crap, as usual.
though he was to remain awake, sleep soon stole
some precious hours of whatever he had remaining.
Later he awoke
to the sound of the pips on Radio Four before the
evening news. The television was off.
shite. Still here.
his fingers, then his toes. Hard, but still
working. Experimentally, he tried to raise his
the old dog yet.
At that he
stopped and sniffed. Disbelieving, he sniffed
again to be sure. It was. It was his favourite
smell. The smell that went with his favourite
cake. Lemon drizzle fruit cake. Individually made
in little cases and sprinkled with icing sugar.
Moved by his wifes thoughtfulness in this,
her probable last gift, he too decided to make
the effort. Hed go to the kitchen, instead
of Beryl having to fetch them to him.
He would have
liked to think he swung his legs from the bed,
but it took far too long and wasnt graceful
enough to be described as anything such. Feet in
slippers, Frank then considered his options.
Walking wasnt one of them. He nearly gave
up then and there, but he thought he might manage
if he crawled. There were no stairs to negotiate
since theyd moved his bed downstairs.
Perhaps it was possible.
It seemed like
hours later, but it couldnt have been more
than thirty minutes - as the news was just
finishing - when Frank arrived in the kitchen.
His last, shuffled, crawling jerks brought him to
the base of the kitchen table. Beryl was at the
sink. She hadnt heard his arrival over the
sound of the radio.
With one final
effort, Frank brought his hand up over the table,
and with a feeling of great achievement and
triumph, he grasped one of the freshly baked
cakes. He felt the soft warmth through his
fingers. He looked up just in time to see the
wooden spoon come crashing down his knuckles.
down you bastard, theyre for the wake.