She remembered how things used to be. Raspberry jelly with wobbly pink blancmange; friends in silly hats singing a tuneless happy birthday; mouths smeared with chocolate and squabbles over parcels and donkeys’ tails.
Cakes with candles and champagne became cakes without. ‘Too many, we won’t remind you, auntie,’ they said. ‘They’d be a fire risk.’ They laughed. And now a bloody cup-cake. Just the one and a beaker of tepid tea. Her heart cried. She reached out her arm. Was that her hand? A knobbly, wrinkled claw. When did that happen? Her head sank back onto the pillow, and she closed her eyes. Not even enough breath for one candle.