Selwyn’s been dead for eighteen months and Nancy is depressed and lonely. There’s no light at the tunnel’s end, no view of pastures new, no hope of happiness, just endless sorrow. Throughout the last six of her fifty-six years she nursed her husband, Selwyn. This wasn’t done out of a sense of duty, but from love. Nevertheless, as the years passed she was filled with a sense of futility; he would die no matter what she did and he seemed to take her care for granted. Helping Selwyn live in the moment was not enough.
With no income from Selwyn’s employment and the inadequacy of sickness benefit in 1967, Nancy made changes to the house enabling her to earn an income from letting rooms to self-catering lodgers.
Knocking on a new lodger’s door, before cleaning his room, she is surprised when Frank Aubourn, a doctor of medicine and acupuncturist, answers, Come in.
She’s embarrassed because she’s dressed in her cleaning clothes. In that moment she is smitten. He’s beautiful, she thinks.
It’s okay, just a day off, he says, lifting his hands up in apology.
What beautiful hands, she thinks, seeing his immaculately manicured fingernails.
You look tired, he says, Would you like a coffee to pick you up?
Even more embarrassed and flustered, she sits in a chair waiting for the coffee.
What’s the matter with me? she thinks. I’m behaving like a lovesick teenager.
Frank returns with their coffees and a plate of custard creams.
She thanks him, thinking, No, I’m a lovesick widow.
This is how it begins. Within weeks they are inviting each other for drinks and supper. Nancy has never felt so loved. Selwyn was never so attentive. She wears make-up again, goes to the hairdresser’s and buys new clothes. She discovers that Frank is a widower. He encourages her to talk about her life until, one day, months later, in her dining-room, she breaks down and finally tells Frank all her deepest woes. He kneels beside her, comforting her. They kiss. They part.
Will you marry me? he asks.
Though shocked, without hesitation she says, Oh, yes!
On a whim, Nancy decides to visit Frank at work. The receptionist at the acupuncture clinic is all smiles until Nancy says, I’ve come to see my fiancé, doctor Aubourn.
The receptionist is horrified. I’m sorry …. He’s no doctor and he’s been sacked.
What? Nancy asks, feeling she may faint.
He’s a complete fake.
Yes, he’s a very convincing con artist.
Nancy collapses into a chair fearing she’ll vomit.
She knocks on Frank’s door. He opens it and asks her in.
She stands in the doorway. You’re a lying bastard, Nancy says.
Theatrically, he raises his hands in defence.
Why did you want to marry me?
Your house would have been mine in time.
I hope you enjoyed this story. Remember, I publish a new story every Sunday.
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© Phil Cosker 2022
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