No alarm clock went off that morning, none had in quite some time. There was no shrill nagging noise to prise bleary eyes open and then drag and heave the half rested body out of bed anymore; those days were over.
A pair of eyes fluttered open as consciousness and pain started to bring the body to life, both started at the same time, but one was considerably faster than the other. Pain spread and mingled with the awakening happening to a body that although fit, was heading towards the retirement paunch. A grumble escaped Tom’s lips as he shuffled forwards towards the bathroom, the pyjamas that had been a present for his last birthday always seemed to get tangled up in the night, and waking up made him feel like the icing being squeezed out on top of the cake. Buttons were digging in where they shouldn’t be and the trousers had moved far enough around his midriff that his hips were poking out the hole meant for using as a fly.
He left Alice fast asleep in the bed, a small strand of hair covering her left eye and mouth moved like a snake as her breath caught it and moved it frantically around. He would have stopped to look at her as he had so many other times, but this morning couldn’t bring himself to; it just didn’t seem right.
The decision had not been easy to take, but now that it had been done it brought with it an enormous sense of relief, it was almost as if it was out of his hands. The aches and pains although there as they had been for some years now, were just a numbed throb that was slightly annoying. Tom flapped about moving arms and legs like a St Vitus dance, trying to get the pyjamas into some semblance of order before he washed his face. In the midst of his jigging about a button pinged off his shirt and landed behind the toilet. He then spent a couple of seconds wondering whether it really was worth the effort to do anything about rummaging around behind the lavatory just to get a wretched button back. He decided against it and went to wash his face and think about tea.
A thought wombled around his mind about the look on his face as he thought that it was sincerely and honestly totally unfair to feel hung over when he hadn’t done anything to deserve it. A small shot of whiskey the night before had left him feeling dizzy at the time, and like he had been out on the town this morning. Each tooth felt like it had its own furry jacket and his mouth tasted like a badger’s set. He had to set about getting things ready before the event. One shower and a fresh suit later he was ready to carry out the deed as he walked crisply out of the door.
Alice got up as quickly as usual and stepped lightly into the shower, not bothering to wait for the water to heat up, feeling the pins of water rap against her and then trickle down all over her. It was a sensation that served two purposes, the main one being to wake her up with a jolt, the other to be a way to get away from the oppressive heat of the area. Fortunately the climate was dry, as she had always hated the humidity in her birthplace. There was nothing like the fresh and clean sensation of water after a night stuck to clinging sheets and unable to feel any air moving at all. It was a wonder any of the olive trees in the grove behind the house grew at all. Any plant around there needed to be very hardy indeed to survive the sharp changes in temperature, from forty degrees in summer to minus ten in winter. She slipped a summer dress on over her head, and went downstairs to fill the coffee pot and start the day. The letter almost jumped up at her from the table. She saw her husband’s writing and, expecting a love note she opened the neatly folded yellow headed paper and started to read.