Agatha was alone in the world now. The tears had stopped making their tracks down her papery cheeks some time ago and she couldn’t remember how long she’d been sat in this chair.
She’d get up in a minute and make a cup of tea and she really should re-light that fire, but coal was so expensive these days. At least Tiddles used to keep her lap warm with his thick, fluffy coat of fur.
She had no tears left now, no feelings to speak of either. She had been so upset when she had found him, stiff and cold in his basket. Old age the vet had said and charged her a fiver for his opinion. Well, she supposed he charged a lot more than that normally.
Her Albert had died in the war, that was the Great War, in 1915. Left her alone to bring up their son, Harry, which she did to the best of her ability.
Harry had been a wonderful son, caring and kind. She had cried when her Harry had joined up in 1939 and gone to war.
“If I don’t Ma,” Harry had said to her, “then me Da would have died for nothing. He fought to make the world a better place and I’m going for the same reason. Don’t worry old girl, Jerry won’t get me so easily!” And he had come back, briefly, but not the lad he had been.
Shell-shocked, he was, but was soon sent back to the front.
She remembered his smile. It was so like his father’s. Both of them handsome men, with wide shoulders and bright blue eyes. No, he was never the same after.
The smile was still there, but the twinkle was gone. He had died only two years into peacetime.
She often fancied she saw him in some young man on the bus, or in the post-office queue. And in this house too. She often imagined him walking in through the door, smiling his father’s smile, his blue eyes twinkling again.
She really ought to light that fire, it would be getting dark soon. But she really wasn’t all that cold and she’d be better keeping the coal until she was. She would make that tea soon, that would keep her going.
Her memory wasn’t what it once was and that flippin’ clock was no help. It had stopped, again, so she didn’t even know what time it was.
She thought she saw a shadow in the corner of the room and looked harder. “Blinkin’ eyesight’s goin’ now,” she grumbled to herself. She blinked a couple of times and when she opened her eyes again, he was there.
“Oh, Harry! Is it you then lad? Come to visit your old Ma again?” she smiled.
“Yes Ma, it’s me,” he twinkled just for her. “Me Da’s waitin’. Are you comin?”
She noticed a dark shadow moving at his heels, difficult to see in the lengthening shadows. The flash of green eyes and the loud purr identified the shadow as Tiddles.
“Yes lad, I’m comin’,” and she eased herself out of the armchair, bracing herself for the shooting pain in her hip which usually accompanied any such manoeuvre.
She was faintly surprised when it didn’t come and her eyesight seemed to be improving too, or the light was. Her Albert was there! And still as handsome as ever! She smiled as she walked towards the open arms of her two men.
It was two days later when they found her.
“Hypothermia by the looks of it.” Dr. Thomas put his stethoscope away and closed up his bag.
“She was very upset about losing her cat,” Helen told him. “I think she just lost the will to live. She looks so peaceful doctor, she’s even smiling,” the neighbour looked around her. In the five years I’ve lived next door, I’ve never known her have so much as a visitor, save myself. What did she have to smile about?”