She smiled fondly at the past, inviting it closer to clutch desperately at the times when everything seemed forever. Glancing up she saw an old toy horse. It spoke of years of playful torture at her hands, the strands of hair that made a glorious mane and handsome tail were long gone. Worn patches remained as a lasting testimony to hair that had long ago been loved off.
Here in this sterile place her life was summarised into a few objects. And People. Her eyes fell on her husband, staring down at her. Pictures hung casually from the walls.
That time she'd slipped through a barrier of riot police to snap an award winning shot of carnage.
The day she climbed a foreign mountain in wind and rain because the sky looked better from up high.
I'm scared she confessed this silently, her voice failing her as it so often did now. His smile didn't crease as he pressed a cool hand against her smooth forehead.
'But you're stronger than anyone I know.' He reminded her and kneeling forward, he continued, 'Your quiet belief in angels,' he whispered, 'will bring us together again one day.'
How do you know? Her frown challenged him, How do you know what's true anymore?
He shook his head, eyes glistening, 'I know this much is true.'
She stared at the old toy horse, at the photos and her wedding ring. Three decades of memories flew through the albums in her mind. She placed her hand on his knee, I love you. She didn't need to say the words because he could feel the warmth spreading through him at her touch. But still his throat closed up and his heart contracted.
She nodded at him. It was time.
'Let's get this over with.' He murmured and closed his eyes as a smile broke her face.
So we can laugh about it later.
He took the pillow and clasped her hands together tightly as he gently covered her face. He knelt on the bed to steady himself. She didn't move and he trembled before firmly pushing down.
The struggling began, she thrashed and kicked viciously. The weakness that had left her body when cancer moved in was suddenly gone and he faltered, imagining for one second that she was better. Her words from months before struck him roughly.
Keep going. No matter what I do. Keep going. I want to go to a better place.
He kept going, tears streaming down his face and soaking the pillow he was using to kill his wife. Sobs racked his body but he didn't care if somebody heard because what else was there for him now?
It was a while before he realised she had stilled. He slowly pushed the pillow away from her, almost frightened at what he would see. But he didn't need to be, buried in the lines that chemotherapy and suffering had etched on her face, was relief and freedom.
He smoothed a hand gently over her head, stroking softly over the places where, long ago, her hair had been loved off.