It is Mrs. Mallard's one hundredth birthday and she decides it is time to have her say.
An established relationship story.
Written: August 2008. Word count: 1,179.
Vanessa Mallard awoke on the day of her hundredth birthday with the knowledge that this would be her last day on earth.
She also knew that she had the day itself to enjoy; she would die near to the moment of her birth: 11:11 p.m. Some time late that evening, before the day slipped from this one to the next, she would leave this earth.
The thought did not in any way trouble her. In fact she was rather pleased by the symmetry of it all: she had come full circle. She had been born and would die on the same day at the same time; that suited her.
She had had a good life, the hundred years had been well spent and she was proud of the fact that she had very few regrets in her life. Yes, she had had a good life, a fulfilled life; she had loved and been loved, and most of all she had been granted a wonderful son.
Donald. Her Donald. Her little boy. No matter that he was now well into his sixties; he would always be her little boy.
And it was to Donald that her, for the first time in many years, completely lucid thoughts turned.
She had one thing left to do before she could die.
Well two actually. The first was to attend and enjoy her own birthday party that Donald and Jethro had arranged for her.
She sat in her chair a glass of champagne in her hand, a plate of food on the table by her surveying her domain and watching her guests interact.
It didn't seem strange to her that the majority of her guests were in fact Donald's colleagues; in fact it seemed right that it should be thus. She watched as they ate and drank and laughed and interacted and wished she could remember their names.
She knew the two girls, both very attractive, both would find lasting love of that she was certain, had organized and produced the extremely find buffet. Some of the food was slightly unknown to her, despite the fact that like her son she had travelled extensively when she was young. She had a vague memory of Donald telling her that one of the girls was from - But she couldn't remember from where she had originated, or indeed which of the two it was. Going by looks, she believed it to be the one without the tattoos, but she could not be certain - one couldn't these days. She wished she could remember their names, not that it mattered, not really, but a hostess should always know the names of her guests.
She took another sip from her glass and discovered it was empty. "Boy," she called across the room, directing her gaze to the young, tall man with the glasses. "You may pour me another drink."
At once he left the two girls and the other two younger men and hurried across to her. As he reached her side, Donald too arrived. "Mother," he said a little firmly, "I have told you, Jimmy is not a servant, he is my assistant and he is your guest."
"I don't mind, Dr. Mallard," the young man said, taking Vanessa's glass, smiling at her and hurrying off to refill it.
"Yes, but -"
"Now, Donald, do not make a fuss."
"No, Mother." He sighed, and as so often happened, his gaze drifted across to where dear Jethro was standing talking to another man of about his age, somewhat shorter than Jethro himself. Her heart went out to her son, and she resolved herself even more firmly to do what she had planned to do later that night.
"Donald, do stop hovering over me. Run along now and -" She stopped speaking and frowned. He was not a child. "Go and talk to my guests," she added hurriedly.
She felt his hand brush her cheek and for a moment hover on her shoulder. "Yes, Mother," he said.
"Here you are, Mrs. Mallard," the boy handed her a glass.
She took it. "Thank you," she paused and searched her mind. "Jimmy?"
He beamed. "Yes, ma'am. Jimmy Palmer."
She nodded and smiled, wanting to say something else, but unable to find the words. Instead she let her gaze drift away to her other two guests: Helen and Charlie Patterson; her dearest friend and her grandson - she would miss them, she would miss them both very much. She'd never told Helen, but she had always looked on Charlie as the grandchild she had always known she would never have.
LATER THAT EVENING
She sat in her room enjoying a chocolate or two from the box Jethro had given her, waiting for her night-time drink to be brought to her. She hoped Jethro would be the one to bring it, as she had to talk to him and needed to do so alone.
It seemed as though her wishes were granted as a few minutes later, her door opened and Jethro entered carrying her cocoa and a glass. "Here you are, Mrs. Mallard, ma'am," he said, putting both down on her table. "I thought as it was a special day you'd enjoy a brandy with your cocoa."
She smiled and acknowledged the greeting and the drinks. "Sit down, Jethro dear."
"Now, Jethro, I have something to say to you."
"Over the decades I have never interfered with your relationship with Donald. I have never said anything. I have sat by and watched you hurt him time and time again. And I have watched you hurting because of the hurt you have caused him. I have watched and my heart has ached for both of you. But enough is enough, Jethro. You are a mature man; it is time you knew what you wanted. Or rather I should say it is time you acted on what you have always known you have wanted. Stop wasting what time you have left. Tell my son how you feel about him; tell him he is the only one; tell him you are ready to commit to him; tell him he is the person to whom you belong. Because he is, you know that, Jethro, and I know it and Donald knows it. You belong with him; you always have. So tell him. And tell him that today. Do I have your word that you will do that?"
"Well?" she demanded, as her sight began to fade and a tightness crept into her chest.
A smile, one that spoke of contentment, peace, of release from expectation, of love and deep affection, crossed his face. He leaned forward and took her hand. "Yes. Yes, Mrs. Mallard, you do." He put his lips on the hand he held and, with reverence, kissed it. And . . .
And with his promise in her ears, a promise she knew he would keep, because she knew he would never break his word, she closed her eyes and quietly passed from this world into the next.
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