By Martine Pedersen 

Tick…Tock.

Tick…Tock.

The sky is getting lighter.

The sun must be rising somewhere on the other side of the curtains.

“Oh – you are awake”

He looks at her – smiles. He walks to her and his lips kiss her softly on her forehead.

“Did you sleep well?”

She smiles. He still looks good in his dark suit. The one she bought him…oh so many years ago, now. He hasn’t changed a bit since she saw him last. The day he went to work, and never came back.

Heart attack, they said…

“What are you doing here today?” she whispers gently. She doesn’t want to make him feel unwelcome.

“Today is the day, my love.” He looks at her – brushes some hair away from her face. “Today is the day”

He looks lovingly at her and walks back to the chair, in the shadows, where he came from.

Tick…Tock.

Tick…Tock.

“Good Morning”

She must have fallen asleep again.

The girl’s come in. She’s drawing the curtains and letting the sun come in. It’s bright today.

She keeps her eyes shut, doesn’t want to wake up – doesn’t want to speak. As much as she likes the girls at this home – they speak too much.

Through her closed eyes she feels it. They are alone, her and the girl. Where did he go? Did he leave again?

The girl comes up to the bed looks at her and smiles. “Happy birthday!”

Oh! She’d forgotten. One would say that she should have been able to remember them now! 91 had gone before this one.

“It’s a very special day. Lot’s of guests, I hear.” The girl keeps talking.

“But the ones I really want to see is not joining us, are they…” She remembers their faces. All the faces.

Too many funerals in the past few years.

The girl left the room.

Something about getting breakfast. She’s not hungry. She just wants to lie there and look out the windows at the clouds floating past her window.

Quietly.

Tick…Tock.

Tick…Tock.

“Mum.?” Her daughter stands at her bed, holding her hand.

“Happy birthday,” she whisperes.

She looks at her daughter and tries to smile. She looks so much older today – has she been crying?

“It’s alright,” she thinks, trying to comfort the daughter, but the words don’t want to get past her lips

“It’s ok. I’m ok. I’m just a little tired, baby girl – just a little tired.” She nods, hoping her daughter understands.

A slide show of pictures passes in front of her eyes. Oh, so many good times, and bad times, they’ve had together. Smiles and laughter.

Tears.

“My little girl,” she thinks. “It’s ok.”

She sees the tears in her daughter’s eyes.

“I’m gonna get some tea,” she coughs, and walks away.

Tick…Tock.

Tick…Tock.

“Are you ready? They’re all waiting for you. Gladys says you always kept her waiting.”

Oh, how she loves his voice.

She nods. Yes, she’s ready. She smiles.

It has to be now, before her daughter comes back with the tea. She doesn’t want her to see this.

“OK,” he says. “Let’s go”

Tick to-

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