What is a woman to do when her friend wishes her dead, so that she can live?
The first thing Helen Ankomah saw when she opened her eyes was the clock on the table. The long hand was on three and the short hand was on eight and she struggled to make sense of it. The lights were off but candles had been lighted, placed on stands around the room, that gave a faint yellowish glow and made the shadows long. The curtains on the windows were thick and drawn so tight that not even the smallest sliver of light could find its way around it. She could not tell if it was morning or evening. But she knew this room. She had decorated it herself; the curtains, the furniture, the colour of the paint; she had chosen them, bought them herself. The only things she couldn’t recognise were the tubes and equipment on the bedside table and the faint smell of antiseptic, competing with the stronger smell of incense.
It was like being in a hospital and a church at the same time. Her head swirled when she tried to sit up, so fell back on the pillows and closed her eyes. After ten minutes she felt better. This time she sat up slowly and placed her feet on the floor. They felt numb as if they hadn’t been used in a while and when she tried to stand, her legs would not hold her. Using the table for support, she lowered herself to the floor. The chemise she wore went up, and cold shot into her where her bare skin touched the cold tiled floor.
Where was everybody?
“Nii?” her voice was thin and raspy.
“Nii!” she tried again. It was useless, no one outside the room would be able to hear her.
She used her hands and elbows; pushed herself forward, then resting her weight on her elbows pulled her limp legs along, stopping just once to catch her breath. She stopped at the door, leaned against the comforting warmth of the wood and closed her eyes. She could hear low voices from outside the door. For the first time since she opened her eyes, she smiled.
“Doc, I think it can be done right here. All hush hush, nobody will know.”
That voice. It sounded thinner, weaker but definitely it was Jackie.
What was Jackie doing here in her house? She couldn’t stand Nii.
“I will know,” Nii’s voice was soft.
“Oh please! We have gone over this a thousand times. Doc says she’s D-E-A-D, brain dead! There’s nothing you or me, or anyone else can do for her.”
“Let’s get a second opinion. Pleeaase, she’s my wife.”
She had never heard Nii sound so weak, so pathetic. Where from this hold Jackie had over him anyway?
“Baby,” Jackie said, “you were with her for what? three years before the accident, plus the two years since she’s been on tubes. You’ve had your shrine, your extra twenty-four hours. Please, do this for me, so that we can have what? Forty, fifty… maybe even sixty years together”.
Behind the door, she held her breath.
Nii was quiet.
“Ok,” he said finally, and she could imagine him wiping his forehead as he did whenever he felt beaten.
"I believe everything has been set up already?” The man who had been silent through the discussion spoke now.
Someone pushed on the door. She shifted to the side to make way. The door opened the light from outside filtered into the room.
Their various expressions flashed before her eyes; shock, joy, relief!
“B-b-but, but you are dead.”
“Sorry to disappoint you. I’m still a long way from the grave. What? Forty, fifty… maybe sixty years from now.”
Nii came to crouch beside her and took her hands in his, “Well doc, it looks like we did not need that second opinion after all.”
The doctor shrugged. All he wanted was his money.
Jackie came closer, “I don’t know what you heard, but I just wanted you to know, I have nothing against you. I just need a kidney and you were a perfect match and since you’ve got just one…” she shrugged.
“Don’t worry,” Helen smiled, “I can’t bear a dying woman any grudge even if she was sleeping with my husband, no, I won’t have that on my conscience.” She smiled at Jackie and held Nii’s hand closer to her. She will deal with his betrayal later.
Write a story 1000 words or less or a poem 40 lines or less where two old friends must make amends before it is too late. What happens to them?