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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Friendship · #1999583
Life never lets you become to contented, it's full of surprises
Kymino was a small town on the banks of a river. Its founding fathers had the foresight to choose a high bank so the town was never flooded when the river got angry. John and Mary were an elderly couple who had retired and settled in a simple cottage back a few streets from the busy roads by the river bank. A typical suburban life was lived by the long term residents in that street.  Gardens, weather, cost of living and children would have been the main topics of conversation, with the local politics being  an occasional deviation.  Mundane,  even boring to some in this day and age,  but satisfactory to the mostly retired residents who were content with their lot

John and Mary were not outstanding in any way, just an ordinary couple, quite elderly, enjoying a peaceful twilight to their lives.  John was a gardener and loved his garden. The roses along the front, the small patch where the lawn grew between the front fence and the house, the flowers of the annuals he diligently planted every year, and the perfume of the rosemary bush close by the front door. Out the back was more garden with a small place to grow a few vegetables for the table. Mary had her garden here too,; a herb garden where she grew the herbs she used in the kitchen.

John was pruning roses today and being very fastidious how he did it.  His roses were the envy of the street, and he treated them with care.  Mary busied herself with the house as she usually did and when morning tea time came she went to the front door and called John to come in.

“I’ll be just a minute dear, I will take the cuttings round the back to the incinerator.”

“That’s fine Love.  I’ll wait for you.”

John took the cuttings round the back and put them in the old drum he used as an incinerator. Then went inside.

“You know Mary,  I feel a bit tired today,” he said as he went to sit at the table. Somehow he missed the chair and fell in an untidy heap on the floor. Mary rushed around to help her John up.  It was to no avail, John’s heart had simply stopped beating;  he had gone.

Mary sat beside him and re-arranged him so he looked more comfortable, put her head on his still chest and cried. The love of her life had passed on and would cuddle her no more.  A little later she rose from John, went into the lounge room and took the small cushion from John’s chair and placed it under his head,  folded his arms across his chest and went to the telephone.  The ambulance came and gently took John’s body away.  Mary’s children began arriving later in the afternoon and Mary busied herself with making patty cakes and scones so she would be ready to receive guests as she always had done;  with a cup of tea.

The next few days were filled with receiving relatives and friends who came to console her. After the funeral the house slowly emptied and she was at length left alone to get on with her own life.  Jennie, from next door, had been a great support for Mary, always being ‘on call’ when needed to help out with whatever was required at the time.  She also did home cooking to help with the visitors.  Mary was sitting quietly in her kitchen when Jennie knocked on the back door.

“Would you like a cuppa, Mary? I have just made a fresh pot. Do come and join me.”

Mary rose and the two ladies went out the front gate, along the footpath and into Jennie’s kitchen. Mary looked and saw the table laid, for two, the tea pot sitting snug in its knitted cosy and a cloth over everything to keep the setting clean.  Both ladies were now alone.  Jennie had lost her man a few years before and was accustomed to her own company.  Some time later Mary declined yet another cup of tea and went back to her now empty house.  She and Jenny had forged a bond that day and every day from then on morning tea was served at one place or the other in strict rotation.  Life goes on and after the hassle of getting probate for John’s will and all the legal bits and pieces were put together, Mary’s life settled to a pattern she could cope with.  Shopping was done with Jennie as an outing for them both and both were still active around the town and in their own gardens.  Mary tried hard to keep John’s roses up to their previous standard and almost succeeded.

Three years later,  after a harsh cold winter Jennie was enjoying the warmth of spring as she walked along the footpath to Mary’s house next door. It was the first really warm day since autumn had vacated the district some months before. She was happy and smiling as she walked in the open back door.  Mary was seated in her usual chair with a relaxed expression of contentment on her face.

“Good morning,  Mary love.  Isn’t it a beautiful day?”

Only silence greeted her. She walked round the table, being careful not to disturb the cloth over the table setting.  Mary was gone.  She had joined John wherever he was and was visibly content.  Jennie checked her pulse and found no heartbeat at all.  She carefully removed the throwover from the table setting, then realised she should tell someone.  ‘Later’, she thought.    She poured two cups of tea and sat down to have a final cuppa with Mary.

  Several minutes later she rose, rang the ambulance first, then Mary’s son Jake. He came in just as the ambulance arrived, and Jennie told them both what had happened.  She left Jake in charge and walked quietly along the footpath, through her own front gate round to the back of the house and into the kitchen.  She sat down and cried and cried.  Her tears formed puddles on the table, but Jennie was not aware of them; she had lost a friend, a very dear friend.  Her tears spilled over the edge of the table and dripped on the floor.
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