“Will you just GO?!” she giggled, pushing him away as he leaned down to kiss her one more time, “You’ll miss the train!”
“Ok, ok! There’s always another train anyway… but ok,” he smiled and lifted his bag, turning to unlock the front door. A blast of icy air hit her bare legs; she hopped and jogged on the spot.
“Fuck! Gotta scrape the windscreen,” he sighed.
“See? Now you really will be late! You should listen to your wife… she always knows best.”
“He! Yeah I got a genius one. Get your ass back up to bed, it’s cold.”
She reached up and squeezed him in a hug, “I love you, have a good day.”
He kissed her, not allowing the fact that she tried to wriggle out of his embrace because she hadn’t brushed her teeth stop him, “Love you too, gorgeous.” He locked the door behind him and she tapped on the glass; a code they’d shared forever, before hurrying back up to bury herself under the still warm duvet.
Her eyes heavy, sleep just starting to envelope her, she groaned at the sound of her mobile buzzing next to the bed.
“Feeling shitty. Turning back and coming home.”
She was surprised to see only fifteen minutes had passed but she smiled at the thought of having him home for a day, even if he was feeling under the weather.
“OK, see you soon x”
She ran to brush her teeth so she could kiss him properly when he got in.
She heard his key in the door and pulled his baggy fleece over her cami top to keep her warm as she went down to greet him. His face was pale, eyes bloodshot; he did not look at all well. “What’s wrong love?” she asked, touching his forehead to check his temperature; his skin was still cold from the frosty air outside.
“Killer headache and I feel a bit off… think I’ll head back to bed and maybe get a later train.”
His face went even more ashen and he shook his head, “No thanks, just bed. You come back with me?”
“Try to stop me!”
Snuggled under the duvet together, he wrapped her in his arms and kissed her again, “Love you, gorgeous. I wish I was feeling better,” he sighed, “I just wanted to come home to you.” She soon heard the low buzz of his heavy breathing, and smiling, she closed her eyes and relaxed against his chest, knowing she would not sleep again once his snoring really took hold.
An hour passed until her stomach prompted her to get up and make breakfast for herself, deciding to let him lie on a while longer. She watched his face, so peaceful in sleep; the deep creases that routinely marked his forehead unusually softened. He looked completely relaxed.
Wincing at the cold kitchen tiles under her bare feet, she regretted not wearing socks, but didn’t want to risk disturbing him again. With a smile, she watched the little robin busying himself on the patio as she waited for the kettle to boil. She noticed the garden was still under a heavy blanket of frost and ice. She shivered and wrapped his fleece tighter around her, thinking she would eat her toast under a blanket watching breakfast TV and then would check on him.
Carrying her tea and toast through to the TV room, she was irritated by a knock on the door. Not even 9.00am; too early for the postman – not wanting him being woken by more knocking, she hurried to open the door.
Her vision blurred at the sight of two uniformed officers on her doorstep; a tall man and shorter, slightly portly younger woman, “Yes. I mean no. I’m… I didn’t take the name… what are you here for?”
“May we come inside?”
Irrationally, she snapped, “No! What do you want?”
The couple exchanged a slow look and seemed to come to an unspoken agreement that the young woman would speak, “Ma’am, are you married to a Mr. Tom Johnston?”
Her mind reeled. What had he done? Was he in trouble?
Looking at the strangers at the door, and across her driveway, something in the back of her mind registered as not quite right about the scene before her.
“We are very sorry to inform you…”
She wasn’t listening.
The car. Where was his car?
“Your husband was involved in a car crash earlier this morning, at the train station junction. I’m afraid it was a fatal accident, Mrs… Um Miss…”
She slammed the door closed and whirled, taking the stairs two at a time, screaming, “Tom! Tom!”
Flinging the bedroom door open, she fell, scraping her bare knees as she skidded across carpet, taking in the thrown back duvet, wrinkled sheets and pillows; the empty bed.
She felt gentle hands on her shoulders, pulling her up. The young female officer lifted her to sit on the edge of the bed, as she murmured, “No. No, he was here. He was here…”
“I’m so sorry, Mrs… sorry, what is your name, love?”
She couldn’t speak.
Her eyes locked on the hollow indent on his vacant pillow.
Copyright, 2016, k1kat.com
All rights reserved
*at the risk of “dissecting the frog“, this story came to me a couple of weeks ago when the OH texted exactly that and came home to me rather than go to work. I was haunted by the idea – what if a ghost came home instead of him and couldn’t quiet shake the thought. I am a bit morbid that way…
Incidentally, the morning went 100% as described, (even down to the glass tapping code… yeah we do that), although I am happy to report he is still in the land of the living!