Wearing Silk Added£1.29
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(A short story of 2236 words)

Wearing Silk


by Katharine Grant

The best promises are very hard to keep.

The old man is waking the old woman with the resolute tap he perfected during the war. She’s been expecting the tap for a week or more. At once, she gathers herself. She must prepare to move, these days. When all her strength is mustered, she pushes back the eiderdown, lowers her legs and carefully places each foot into slippers she knits for them both every year. She sniffs the air. Without touching the shutters she gauges that it’s dawn. It’s not cold, though. Summer has reached the farm.

‘Coffee, Joska?’ She’s standing by the range, still warm from the night before.

He’s going to refuse, as usual, but the diminutive of his name, not usual, catches at him. He’ll take the coffee today. Perhaps its bitterness will help. What nonsense, he thinks. Of course it won’t help. Nevertheless, he drinks the coffee, the scour adding to the sickness in his throat. He wipes his mouth. She’s never been a good coffee maker.

His wife doesn’t light the lamp, not out of economy or in deference to today’s business, but because she’s spent so long in this kitchen she no longer needs her eyes. She moves around with blind confidence, familiar with every mote of dust in the cupboards and every tear in the cloth over the chest under the window. She usually smoothes it, that cloth. Today she must steel herself to touch it. There’s nothing wrong with the cloth, or with the chest on which, for years, they’ve sat of an evening. What’s in the chest is a different matter...

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