The Last Word

I was baking one of my orange cakes - one of my dear Arthur’s favourites - when the doorbell rang. I heard a few murmured words, the door closed and Mrs Jones, my daily help stomped into the kitchen.

‘Message from Mrs Pickles’ she sniffed, superciliously, before handing over an envelope. I gave her one of My Looks and she retreated. Since the War it is so difficult to get good staff.

The writing on the envelope, faint, spidery, was not at all like Doris’ usual childlike scribble. I opened it.

Dear Sandra I hope you are well? Such dreadful weather. I have been kept inside by a shocking cold but I am well now. I have missed our little game and wondered if we could have it tomorrow? It would be lovely to see you, Grace and Enid once more.

I am very sensitive, at least Arthur used to say so and I detected a plea in Doris’ letter. Poor soul, she must be in want of good company. I pictured her lying in bed in that dreadful little cottage, lonely, helpless even with scarcely a morsel to eat in the pantry. You see, Doris is a lovely person, good-hearted and such a willing helper at the village fete and the church jumble sales – although that is more to fill her wardrobe out – but never mind that. She is so genuine, a happy soul, a widow, like me but unlike my dear Arthur, her Ernest was most improvident and left her in a parlous state financially. When he died Mrs Markham, the Squire’s wife offered her the cottage at the gates to the Grange because poor Doris could not afford to stay on in the family home. I know a few other ladies in the village look down their noses at her, but as Grace’s husband, the vicar always reminds us – it is what is in your heart and not in your purse that is important and Doris has a good heart.

Anyway, our little game is a weekly game of whist between me, my best friend Grace, Doris and Enid. Doris loves playing cards. The only problem is she is hopeless. She fluffs her shuffle, forgets which suit is trumps and never seems to be able to remember what cards have been played. She always loses. Our games are punctuated with cries of ‘Oh Doris how many more times, hearts are trumps’. Even Grace protests mildly and she is the quietest, most tolerant and charitable of us – well I suppose she has to be being the vicar’s wife.

Oh but Enid! Her sole purpose ...

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Sheila Williams
May 11 2020

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I love this.

Rod Webb
May 11 2020