Sunday 6 October 2019

The Last Piece

by Robin Wrigley

Campari with pink grapefruit juice

David looked at the yellow and red crumbs on his plate and gently pressed them with his middle finger and placed them on his tongue savouring each morsel as though to register the sweet taste on his memory.
     Janice had baked the vanilla sponge on Tuesday as she always did. It was now Sunday and she had left him on Thursday while he was playing golf. There was a simple note left on the kitchen table saying she was leaving him and that he should not try to find her.
     He looked at the empty plate to ensure he hadn’t missed any crumbs and a thought went through his mind that the plate was now as empty as his life. How does one prepare for life on one’s own? What had gone wrong?
     Moving to the sink he washed the plate and tea-mug under the cold tap and placed them on the draining board to dry while musing with the fact that now he was alone there was little point in using the dishwasher for just two items.
     Placing both hands on the edge of the sink to support himself, he looked out of the window across the garden into the fields beyond. It was as though he was seeking an answer that would solve this utter despair that ran constantly through his head.
     They had discussed how either of them would cope on their own. He always consoled himself that as he would be the first to go there was no need to consider the consequences. Besides the subject was far too morbid and never went further than the fact that they were financially secure with ‘mirror-wills’ in place. Both preferred cremations to burials.
     The sudden sound of the phone ringing diverted his train of thoughts and he went into the hall to answer it. No number registered and nobody answered. That was the fourth such call at the same time each day. Could it be Janice? He resisted asking the question into the phone and merely said ‘hello’. He put the phone down and returned to his despair.
     She was gone, he was alone. How does one simply go back to being single after thirty years or more as part of a partnership? Who could he turn to? So far, he had not told a soul. They were not the kind of people who confided in relations or friends. There was no need, had each other, or did they?
     He wandered into the study, sat at his desk and switched on the laptop. He opened their account as he did most days. First, he checked their bank account, no movement since the last standing order. Next, their emails, there was the usual flurry of offers, mainly for Janice and just as he was about to close it, a new email came in.
     It was from someone called Anthony Edwards and the message was as short as it was startling. Janice is everything alright?  He searched his brain and concluded that he knew no-one by this name. Then the out box and deleted messages but there was no register of this name. Nor was it in the address listing.
     He got up from the chair and wandered into the dining room. It was a dining room in name only because they always ate in the kitchen. He couldn’t remember the last time they entertained anyone for dinner either.
     It was Janice’s habit to use the dining table to complete jigsaw puzzles and there was one there now. It was very close to being completed so he sat down and started to finish it for her. Why, he couldn’t think.
     Just as he was getting close to completing the puzzle the doorbell rang. He got up to answer it muttering to himself, ‘the last piece, Janice always said someone, or something always interrupted her from placing the last piece’.
     As he moved towards the front door, he noticed a police car parked in the drive.

About the writer

Robin is a regular contributor to CaféLit over the past 3 years and his short stories have been selected for the annual ‘Best of Cafelit’ publications. He is a member of the Wimborne Writers’ Group in Dorset.

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