Free Read Friday: Covenant Part III


Part III

For a week he kept his promise, remaining attentive to her every need, even though it seemed she was unaware of him. Her mind having wandered to a remote place that lay beyond the edge of reason. He tried not to think about the phone booth in the basement, or the strange dream he’d had, a dream that had felt more real that imagined. But it was hard, that brief moment had reminded him what it felt like to really be alive.  That mysterious woman haunting his thoughts as he went about his duties.

Every day he brought her breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the appointed time. Every day she watched him with guarded mistrust. Like he was a stranger in her home, and not the man she had spent over fifty years with. She was slowly becoming just like her own mother in her final days, and the thought brought out another that had lain buried by sorrow.

The day they laid her mother to rest she had cornered him in the cemetery, in the older section where the stones were not as polished, and the names once chiseled sharply on those granite faces were losing their edge. Fading into the past like all of them would eventually.

“I don’t want to end like that,” she’d said as they walked among the tombstones. Her once vibrant red hair had already started to lose it luster, here and there the gray of her approaching old age had started to show through. Her steps were not as assured as they once were, and she carefully picked her way through the graveyard, ever watchful for hazards that might cause her to lose her footing.

“Like what?” he’d asked as he followed, noting, not for the first time, that the curvy figure that had caught his eyes so many years ago had softened around the edges. It was still there, just not as pronounced as it once was.

“Like my mother,” she said as she spun on him, forcing him to stop abruptly, “I don’t care what you’ve gotta do, I don’t want to end up like that.”

“What are you talking about? What are you saying?”

“You know. “ She looked at him with a hard stare, an unrelenting gaze, her blue eyes as cold as ice. He was forced to look at his feet, the ground, the tombstone to their right that carried the worn name of another. Anywhere but into her unrelenting gaze. A part of him noticed the crows feet spreading out from the side of each eye, the way her cheeks had grown just a tad heavier, her lips a little less defined.

“A bullet to the brain would be preferable to spending the last years of my life confined to bed, unaware of who or where I am, not even recognizing you or the boys. I couldn’t live with myself like that,” she said.

Archie was taken back by the sheer intensity in her voice.

“Promise me,” she said, stepping close enough for him to see the fine lines gathered at the corners of her lips.

“Promise you what?” He asked, but he knew all too well what she wanted. It was what anyone else in the same situation would want. What many already trapped in the illness likely begged for silently every day. An end to the suffering, the not knowing, the loss of self. An end to the indignity of being forced to rely on others for even the simplest of things.

“You know what,” she said, following him step for step as he backed away from her. The backs of his legs came against the curved top of a tombstone and he was forced to put his hand back to steady himself.

“What?” he said again. “Say it out loud, tell me what you want me to do.”

“I want you to kill me, it if comes to it. The doctors say I have a seventy five percent chance of becoming just like my mom. If I do, I want you to end my suffering.”

How? How could he kill the one thing he truly loved. He knew death, had walked hand in hand with it in the jungles of Vietnam, but that had been war. This was different, this was murder plain and simple

“I’m begging you not to let me suffer the same fate as my mom.”

He couldn’t respond, hell he couldn’t even wrap his mind around it, to kill his wife, the mother of his children, the woman he loved. It was too much to ask. It was one thing to kill your enemy in a battle. It was quite the opposite to kill the one you loved.

He stood at the foot of her bed as she slept, the memory of that day receding into the dark depths of his mind. It would be so easy. Hold the pillow over her face until she stopped struggling.

Would she struggle?

The direction his mind was taking frightened him and he raced from her room as fast as a man his age was capable of. Seeking the refuge of the basement. He reached the bottom of the steps and stared across the room at the phone booth as the memory of her sparkling blue eyes filled his mind. Before he even realized he was going to do it he was halfway across the room.

Reaching the phone booth he yanked open the door and stepped in to settle onto the hard wooden seat. There he sat as the stress from the past week slowly drained away and a heavy sadness settled over him. Lowering his head he cried softly, his hot tears dropping onto his hands.

It was too much to ask.

There was a knock at the door, and he looked up.

To be continued!

Become a member of my
readers group and get a
free starter library.

That's 2 complete novels and a 
collection of short stories.
Absolutely Free!

No comments:

Post a Comment