by Jo Dearden
A cold, bleak January day. Rain relentlessly beating at the windows. George ate his breakfast in silence. He wondered how he was going to get through another day alone. His wife, Mary had died unexpectedly just before Christmas. She had slipped at the top of the cellar steps, cracking her head on the quarry tiled floor below. George had found her. He knew she was dead as soon as he saw the congealed blood around her head on the cellar floor. She was lying awkwardly with her right leg twisted underneath her. He wasn’t sure how long she had lain there as he had gone out for the morning to do a few errands.
The paramedics had been sympathetic. No-one blamed him. It was just one of those things – a freak accident.
‘Do you have any children’, one of them asked? George nodded. ‘I have a son in Australia and a daughter in London, but they are very busy with their own lives these days’.
They had both helped with the funeral arrangements. Mark had flown back for the necessary time but had scurried back to the warmer climes of Sydney as soon as he could. George had never really got on with his wife. There had been a disagreement, but it was hard to remember now.
The telephone rang, breaking the gloomy silence. ‘Hello Dad. How are you doing’. It was his daughter, Liz.
‘I’m ok’, he lied. ‘Just doing the same old things you know’. Liz prattled on about her four-year-old twins, Tom and Felix. He wanted to tell her how lonely and miserable he was but couldn’t quite bring himself to do so.
‘Ok Dad, glad you’re all right. I’ll ring again next week.’ The phone went dead. George placed the receiver back on its cradle and sighed. He knew it was early days, but would he ever feel happy again?
He decided to go for a walk in-spite of the rain. After a while he found himself beside the sea shore. Huge waves crashed onto the beach. How cold would the water be? It wouldn’t take long. He went down to the water’s edge. He looked down at his feet, momentarily transfixed by the flecks of foam that had spattered his shoes. He didn’t notice the huge wave heading towards him. As he looked up, it was too late. The wave crashed over him, propelling him forwards into the angry grey water. He had never felt such icy coldness. As another wave washed over him, he had a sudden urge to survive but the undertow was too strong, and he felt himself being pulled out by the tide. He started to lose consciousness as the freezing water overwhelmed him.
A pair of arms seemed to grab him from nowhere. The next thing he knew he was lying in a sodden heap on the beach. ‘You ok mate’, he heard a voice above him. ‘Lucky for you, I was out with my dog.’ ‘Where do you live? Let me take you home before you freeze to death’.
Back home, having had a hot shower, George sat down with a steaming mug of hot tea. As his life had momentarily flashed before him, he had decided that if he lived, he would try to move on. Mary wasn’t coming back. He knew that now. He folded his newspaper and looked out of the window at the rain.