Friday, March 10, 2017

Short Story - It's Time

It's Time
Hazel Campbell © 2017

"Wake up, dear. It's too hot. Time we went in." Rachel poked her husband who was dozing in his wheelchair.
"Call Fairy," he mumbled.
She shook the bell they used to summon the caretaker, vigorously. Fairy would say she didn’t hear the bell if it only tinkled.
In the kitchen, Fairy grumbled, "A person can't get two minutes to themself. All day long they ringing that damn bell. Never mind," she consoled herself. "The house soon finish, then …"
She went to the couple who were taking their morning sunbath on the porch and pushed Neville, the husband in the wheelchair while helping his wife who walked with a stick to their bedroom. ''Anything else?" she asked.
"Some lemonade would be nice," Rachel said. "All that sun has made us thirsty."
Fairy grunted and left the room.
"She has got quite surly of late. Have you noticed, Neville?"
"Maybe, she's tired of looking after us," he replied.
"She's well paid for her services."
There was silence for a while.
"Neville, we need to talk some more about that thing we were discussing last night."
"What thing is that?"
Rachel sighed. She wished he wasn’t so forgetful. Last night they had discussed her fear of either one of them dying before the other. She couldn’t bear the thought of him leaving her, nor the thought of leaving him all alone.
"This year," she rehashed the conversation he didn’t remember, "we will both be 98. Most of our friends are gone. It's been a good life, but maybe it's time for us to go. I don’t want to continue until we can’t move or help ourselves or each other."
"Hmn," he said and she didn't know if he was following her.
"I don’t know how long our money will last."
"It should last a long time," he said, suddenly perking up at the mention of money. "We made some good investments."
Another round of silence.
"I haven't checked our bank book for some time."
"Fairy granddaughter has it."
He chuckled when he used the name they had given the caretaker shortly after she had come to work with them some years before. Her name was actually Fairy and Rachel had said, "We are too old to have a fairy godmother, so you'll be our fairy granddaughter."
And so she had turned out to be, looking after them and developing their trust to the point where she was solely in charge of withdrawals from their account to pay bills, keep the house and pay herself.
When Fairy returned with their lemonade, Rachel said, "Fairy granddaughter, please bring the bank book. We have to start planning our expenditure more carefully."
The tray with the glasses suddenly tilted and Fairy had to steady it to prevent the juice from spilling.
"It's …  it's in my other bag. I… I left it at home this morning," Fairy stammered.
"No problem. Please go home and fetch it. We'll be all right until you get back."
Fairy seemed to hesitate, so Rachel said, "Just lock the door when you leave. We’re going to take a nap now."
A few minutes later, Rachel whispered to Neville, "Did you see how she got flustered when I asked her about the bank book? I have a feeling something is wrong. Why would she have it in her bag at her house? I am going to call Cecille at the bank and ask her to check the balance. We have been careless about it."
"You said we could trust her," Neville replied.
"People change."
Rachel had to wait for her contact at the bank to call her back. By the time she finished a very disturbing conversation, Neville was asleep.
"Neville! Neville! Wake up." She shook him. "It's bad. Really bad."
"What's bad?" he asked, sleepily.
"Oh, Neville, pay attention. The girl has stolen most of our money!"
"Who has stolen our money?"
"Fairy. She has taken out a million dollars over the last six months. There's very little left."
"Call the police! Call the police!" he kept repeating.
"Calm yourself, Neville. Let me think."
After a while, she said, "Perhaps it's time to put my plan in action."
"What plan?"
"Last night when we were talking about it, you agreed it was the best plan."
"What plan?"
Rachel went to sit on the bed beside him. She held his hand as she talked.
"We're 98 years old this year. We have had a good life. We can’t expect to live much longer, and neither of wants to die and leave the other."
"What are you saying?" he asked. He looked at her through cloudy, watery eyes. He could hardly see now, but he smiled and said. "You are a beautiful woman. I'm glad I married you."
"Yes, dear," she said. "I'm glad I married you, too."
She got up and wobbled with her walking stick to the desk in the room, took up a pen and wrote on a pad. "I've written a note for the police," she said. "Listen —
"This morning we discovered that our caretaker, Fairy Gentles has stolen most of our money from the bank. When we accosted her, she threatened to kill us. If anything happens to us, you know where to look for the culprit."
"Very good, milove," Neville said. "Who is the culprit?"
Rachel shook her head, but she smiled as she folded the note and put it in an envelope.
"It's perfect. Just like that movie we watched. She won't get away with it."
The two glasses of lemonade Fairy had brought for them were still on the table, untouched. Rachel opened a drawer, took out a small packet and emptied the contents into the glasses. Then she took two capsules from a vial. Her hands shook as she pulled them apart and emptied the contents in the lemonades.
She used the straws in the glasses to slowly stir the contents until she felt certain that her additions were absorbed, then she took one and brought it to the bed.
"It's time, Neville."
"What time is it?" he asked.
"Here's your lemonade, dear."
He took the glass and slowly sipped through the straw. "Bitter," he said, making an ugly face.
"Never mind. Just drink it."
She waited until he finished, put his empty glass on the table, stirred and drank from hers quickly and returned to the bed.
Neville was lying on his back with his eyes closed. She was glad she had thought of adding the sedative; he wouldn't feel anything.
She checked that the note to the police was hidden under her pillow then lay down beside him. She snuggled up and rested her head on his shoulder, too bony now to be comfortable, but this had always been her safe place. 
He mumbled softly and she answered, her voice fading at the end, "It’s okay, dear. We're going home, together."
Fairy had found her husband. "They asking for the bank book. They're going to find out we thief the money! What we going to do?" she wailed.
"Stick to the plan. We were going to do it anyway," he said. "We just kill them now instead of later."