Following Your Heart

Cora left school at sixteen to marry her childhood sweetheart Mike James. They bought their first house together, a decaying old cottage in the middle of nowhere. She thought her life was so romantic. But now two years later she is working as a waitress in a bar, can't afford to make their home habitable and Mike is desperately ill. She has begun to think that following your heart is the wrong thing to do, but is she right?

The steady drips of water coming through the roof rang around the small bathroom where I lay in the bath, staring at the patched up celing.  I must remember to put next month's money toward the repair work that our house so desperately needs.

It doesn't help that Mike's ill, but I'm so used to him being ill it hardly matters anyomre.  No matter what happens I will keep my promise, to love him and stand by him, 'til death us do part'.

I rose out of the bath sending splashes of water all over the room.  I wrapped myself in a rough towel and dripped my way to the door.  The grey clouds outside mirrored my mood exactly.  I had returned from the late night shift at the bar, nearly a mile away, and all I wanted to do was go to bed.

But life wasn't that simple.  First I would have to give Mike his breakfast.  He would be in where I'd found him asleep when I got in, on the sofa, surrounded by our favourite books.  That was one of the reasons we had got together in the first place, as well as his dashing good-looks.  He was the only man I knew who loved classical literature.  Our favourite was The Three Musketeers.  Whenever he had such a bad relapse he couldn't cope on his own I would always call in sick and sit reading it too him and even as I was reading I could see the colour come back into his cheeks.

After I had seen to him and made sure he would be alright on his own for a few more hours, I would have to do the washing up from the evening before and then there was the bottomless pit that was our washing basket.  It wasn't until I had tried to attempt this, usually failing, that I could collapse on my bed, crawl under the covers and sleep.  Even then it would only be a few hours before I had to get up again and start my whole routine again.

I walked slowly down the stairs and put on my fixed grin before I walked into our tiny snug, barely big enough to house the battered sofa in one corner, a bookcase overflowing with books and a threadbare carpet beneath.  Then of course there was the pale face hiding under the pile of blankets heaped onto the sofa.  It was a sad face, his once handsome features had been eaten away by illness and his sparkling eyes had grown dim.

He smiled as I walked in but I could tell even that small gesture was a struggle.  I bent down and gave him a quick peck on the cheek before continuing into the kitchen.  Unfortunately the huge pile of dishes was still sitting where I had left them the evening before.

With a sigh I began my routine, putting a slice of bread in our dying toaster, rinsing and drying one of the cleaner plates, buttering the still hot toast and taking in to Mike who began to nibble at the crusts in an unhurried manner.

Everytime I looked at Mike I could see the person he had once been, full of life and passion, now reduced to this by the one thing that had ruined our lives, the thing that was killing him.  Cancer.

The End

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