First Ice

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Jimmy couldn’t sleep, he soon enough managed to creep out of bed without waking Davina up. He tiptoed across the room, put on his dressing gown and quietly made his way down the squeaky stairs. It was nearly 8.00 in the morning. Jimmy felt exhausted, as he had not been sleeping well recently.

He had just put the kettle on. When he heard the clatter of the letterbox, and the thud of the envelopes hitting the doormat. He slowly dragged his feet across the room to the front door. As he knelt down to pick up the pile of letters he felt a cold shiver down his spine. He glanced through the letters, mumbling “Bills, bills, and more bloody bills.

He looked at the last envelope, which was different from the others. It was a letter from his mother. It had been a long time since Jimmy had spoken to his mum. She was as stubborn as he was. He ripped open the letter, curious to read what was written there.

Dear Jimmy,

How are you dear? I hope all is well. Pumpkin, don’t feel worried about why I’m writing to you. It’s just been a long time since I’ve spoken to you. Your father and I were just really concerned about you. I know what you’re thinking right now, that we don’t bother calling you any other time but dear I have a bit of bad news for you. I don’t know how to tell you, to be honest I can’t believe it myself. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I feel so lost without you being here. Your father is just carrying on as if nothing has happened but I know it’s eating away at him…

As Jimmy continued to read, he felt a mixture of emotions. He wanted to cry but felt angry with his mother. He wanted to tear up the letter and forget he had ever received it, but he couldn’t resist reading on.

We only want the best for you now this is hard for me to write, but I’ve been told that I’ve got cancer and there’s nothing that can be done for me now. I don’t have much time left. What I’m trying to say is that your father and I have found someone for you. She comes from a respectable and well-educated family. I only want to see the best for my son and to see him married, to someone the whole family can love.

He had sat down to think for a bit before Davina woke up. What an earth could he tell Dav? How could he even begin to tell her? He loved her so much and he didn’t want to leave her. But deep down he knew if it came down to it what he would have to do.

After a while, he heard Dav wake up. He quickly hid the letter under the cushions of the sofa. He was acting normally in front of Davina, as he did not want to say anything before he had thought through the next move. He knew how much Davina hated his mother interfering in their relationship.

Davina and Jimmy had been together for two years and three months, and Jimmy no longer knew if he loved her. All he was sure of was that he couldn’t desert her. Since she had fallen ill a year before, Jimmy had done everything for her. How would he choose between his mother and his partner?

Later that day, Jimmy was making soup for lunch. He handed Davina a steaming bowl as she snuggled up on the sofa in a warm woolly jumper of Jimmy’s that she always wore when she became ill. Davina sighed blissfully in her cosy room with Jimmy, and stared into the fire without saying a word.

Then suddenly she said “when are we getting married Jimmy?” Jimmy hated talking about marriage as it just caused unnecessary arguments between them. It all seemed a bit of a coincidence that she had asked. “Look, why are you asking me this Dav? You know what I’m going to say. So just drop it, I don’t want to talk about marriage at our age.”

“Well guess what Jimmy? I need to talk about it. We have been together for ages and I think that the next step for us is marriage.”

“No, no, no Dav, we are not getting married ok, ever.”

They glared at each other in complete silence, it was so still you could hear a pin drop.

Davina obviously could not believe what he had just said. Angry tears were just streaming down her pale face. Her mascara was all smudged with tears. “What did you say?”

“Nothing,” replied Jimmy.

“What did you just say?” she asked, more loudly.

“Nothing Dav,” he replied again.

“I’m going to ask you one more time. What did you mean when you said we’re not getting married, ever?”

He did not say anything, he could feel in his heart that it was a wrong move and everything would just tumble down like a house of cards when the truth came out.

He took the letter from its hiding place and watched Davina as she read the contents.

Her face grew wet with tears, and Jimmy felt icy fingers of fear clutching of his heart. He could not bear to stay in the room, which had become stifling. He walked out to nowhere, feeling empty, hurt and lost. The chill November wind hit his face, making him gasp with shock.

He approached a phone box and went inside. His icy fingers were poised over the buttons and his cold breath filled the booth with vapour. He knew what he had to do. The first ice of human hurt melted as spoke in the phone.

“Hello, dad, yeah…it’s me. Can you call mum? I need to tell her something…”

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