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(A short story of 4223 words)

Waste

Humour Literary

by Tracey Emerson


Alice has grown tired of life.


At eight a.m., on the morning of the last day of her life, Alice Calder stood shivering in the outdoor pool of the Madeira Heights Hotel. Refracted by the water, her bony, thread-veined legs appeared even more ugly than usual. She remembered herself many years ago, resplendent on the beach at Nice in a high-leg black bikini. She sighed for what once was.

‘Morning Mrs Calder.’ Peter the pool attendant waved as he tossed blue and white striped cushions onto sun-loungers.

‘Morning Peter.’ She took a deep breath and launched herself onto her stomach.

Kick, pull, breathe.

She submerged her head as she swam, despite not having a swimming cap on. Wet hair, she’d catch a chill.

Didn’t matter.

The temperature would play havoc with her already stiff hips but, for once, she didn’t care.

Kick, pull, breathe.

So liberating to swim without having to hoard her dwindling energy reserves for later, the next day, the day after that.

She moved well for a woman of eighty-three, her neat, steady breaststroke practised every day at home. Ten lengths before breakfast in the heated pool in her conservatory.
As she swam, she thought back to the night of her sixtieth wedding anniversary. Was it only two months ago? Only two months since the decision was made?

She recalled the care with which she’d set the table. Two crystal wine glasses, two sets of her best silver, polished. Chicken breasts wrapped in Parma ham from Marks and Spencer – Julian’s favourite. After serving dinner, she filled the glasses with Sauvignon Blanc, then sat back and stared at her husband’s empty place.

Poor Julian. She prodded at the chicken with her fork but couldn’t bring herself to eat it. She did miss him. She gulped back her wine and reached for his. Everything in moderation, Julian liked to say. She finished his glass too.

Afterwards, she teetered to the kitchen and retrieved her husband’s medication box from the cupboard next to the fridge. She lined up a parade of bottles in front of the kettle and inspected them. The tablets were nearly a year old now but they should do the trick...

 

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