He held her hand and listened as she told her story.
“I…can’t…if I die…my body…I’ll be…put…in a freezer…nobody will get….me”
She’d come from across the street where she’d lived for almost twenty years. They’d become friends, sharing glasses of wine on their decks, discussing keeping up their Victorian homes, and everything else under the stars.
Tonight she’d somehow made it across the street. He’d let her in and tucked her into the comfortable bed in his guest room. She could barely walk, barely breath, and barely speak, but he managed to make out her story.”
“I grew up in a place where poetry had to rhyme. Romance always ended in a wedding. Divorced women were predators out to steal husbands. Women didn’t buy their own homes. It was all about waiting for a man. Tonight you’re going to be my man, but not that way. I hope you don’t mind.”
“It will be an honor to be your man tonight,” he told her.
“I’m divorced. My kids are in college. I can’t die of this. If I go to the hospital I’ll die alone. If I stay home I will die. My body will be taken to a storage freezer. My kids won’t know what to do. Their father is worthless. He isn’t in their lives. Will you make sure my children will be alright. They know you. They trust you.”
“I’ll make sure they’ll always be alright. Your children will be safe. You’ll be safe. You aren’t going to die.”
“Aren’t you afraid you’ll catch this from me?”
“No,” he said. “I am not afraid. I won’t catch it. I can’t catch it.”
She gave him a weak smile, knowing he wouldn’t catch it. Then she coughed again with tears of fear and frustration.
“I’ll make it better,” he said. “Is that what you want?”
She closed her eyes as she thought about her choice. As she tried to speak nothing came out. Then she squeezed his hand, and looked in his face.
Brushing her hair out of his face, then off of her neck he said, “Alright. Here we go. Next week we’ll be having wine on your deck and forgetting you were ever sick.”
The next morning she felt like she was having the worst hang over of her life, but the cough was gone. Her sense of smell was back. She laughed.
He came in with a cup.
“Coffee?” she asked.
“Spiced blood. You’ll need it.”
In these times we all need to take care of others. Wear your mask. Check in on those who are alone or might need extra help. Stay safe.