You are on page 1of 2

Beatitude Betty lived alone, her husband twenty years in the grave.

Cracks in the floor traced the paths where children once crawled. Deep furrows lined her brow as she paced from room to room in the big, empty house. Each night she lay to rest among the rotting lace of her conjugal bed, and every morning she rose in the dusty shafts of sunlight. Frail legs twisted under her crooked frame as she shuffled from bed to bathroom. Glass brown with age reflected an indefinite portrait over the sink, but she had stopped looking at the stranger who looked back from there anyways. Her phone never rang, and when it did she didn't listen to the recording on the end of the line. In the afternoon she clipped coupons from the daily and sipped tea out of a china teacup. July was the month in which her husband had died, and she wore black for its entirety, though it was more out of habit now than it was for the mourning. Knocks on her door meant the USave man had come with her groceries, and only on every other Wednesday. Little old Betty lived, not happily, but content in the slow routines of the stuffy decaying home. Much to her surprise, this routine was disturbed on a particular Monday, when a tall and well-dressed man stood on the other side of her rapping door. Name's Stan he said, and he shook her hand with a grin and a twinkle. Overwhelmed by his charms, Betty let him inside and led him to the kitchen. Petrified with shame, the old woman brushed stale crumbs and paper scraps from the table. Quavering, she croaked, Would you care for some tea?

Robbed of breath by her simple question, she waited in silence for his reply, staring at his handsome face. Sure, that would be fine he replied, You are a kind woman, and I was raised to repay like with like-I have a proposal for you. Though you can clearly take care of the basic functions of your life, do you not wish for an easing of your struggles, and surely you want for company, living all alone. Under the papery skin of her chest she felt her weak heart flutter at his words, and the china cup in her hand clinked in the saucer. Very much, I would like those things she spoke softly with a hesitant smile to Stan the stranger. Well, I have something here that can take away your troubles he grinned even wider, setting a metal briefcase that he lay flat on the table. Xenon hissed from the unsealed case when he took a round key from about his neck and twisted it in the slotted clasp of the case. You can finish your life with dignity he breathed with apparent delight, drawing a glass syringe from out of the condensing gas. Zero risk of survival, an endless vision of paradise in the span of a single breath he expelled with rising excitement. Ask me again tomorrow she sobbed from between he thin lips.