Cost Of Living

Entry by: retiring

31st August 2022
Cost of Living by Marion Foreman
She moped his brow – was that even a thing? She felt like a latter day Florence. This had been going on for weeks. She stretched, the pain in her hunched shoulders seemed to be permanent.
At the beginning she had prayed for his recovery. The police had said that he had ‘life changing’ injuries. Well, she thought that is what they had said. It had partially filtered through her shock and the crackle of their radios.
The doctors had been less dramatic and had talked of intensive care and his age. She thought that they had said that the two were incompatible.
There was talk of organ donation (too old) but then of living wills and ‘his wishes’. She didn’t know – they hadn’t discussed that. They would have to ask his elusive children.
They had ‘found love in later life’ (the correct definition if you read the glossies) and neither were sure of their place. His place in her bed was established, at her meal table and in her savings. But not in her life. She wasn’t his next of kin but that got forgotten; the idea of two old people ‘in a relationship’ was so alien that marriage was always the working assumption.
She didn’t know if he would prefer to linger in vague hope or go swiftly with dignity.
It has begun innocently enough (didn’t it always?) The Writers’ Discussion group. She was attracted to him when he used an apostrophe correctly. His ability to do The Guardian quick crossword efficiently was appealing at first but wore thin when he did all the across clues and left her the down ones.
Sex came later. His expectations didn’t live up to his achievements but he did his best, bless him. She was grateful for the nights apart – it gave her a chance to catch up with where he had left off.
The evenings out were great – her purse made many appearances, his wallet not so often. They didn’t discuss money. They used her car, it was easier to get in and out of.
He didn’t forget many things – she made sure of that. Little reminders, little nudges. The odd elusive word supplied when necessary. She ignored the never finished book and the TV plots which he claimed to be ‘very obscure’. She was glad of his company and he was good with his hands. Provided it needed a drill and some screws and not too much accuracy. Shelves were his thing but door handles and picture hanging were in his repertoire. And the grass – he mowed the grass when she reminded him that it was ‘mowing Monday’. ‘Online’ anything was an anathema but he was a dab hand at reading tedious letters from utilities companies and declaring them to all be ‘scandalous’.
She had thought of marriage but couldn’t decide on the colour of her dress so abandoned the idea along with the bouquet of roses and the three tiered cake. She was glad now – she didn’t want to be a widower. But she didn’t want this living death either.
How much longer should she wait? She could see there was no hope. Should she raise the topic – what was it called? Turning off life support? No, he wasn’t on any ‘support’. He just lay there, the stroke coming so soon after the accident meant that he needed feeding through a tube and all the outgoings through other tubes. She didn’t know what he wanted but she sure as hell knew she didn’t want it. She liked him – but not this version. The cost of living was too great.
She put down the cloth, kissed his forehead and walked away. The crossword, all to herself, was waiting.