The Last Resort
The divorce was behind Diane now. She had full custody of the children, with a rider forbidding them to be taken abroad, without her consent. Relief came from knowing that Paul had been fairly generous with maintenance and was happy for them all to stay in the house until the children finished their education.
The sun that had been building its heat since early morning, was giving Diane’s spirits a lift. A golden orb set in a cloudless, blue spring sky. I’ll spring clean whilst the weather holds, she thought. Guilty about the state of the house, that had become a tip since she’d been working. Oh, Paul. If you could see me now, struggling with filing in an office agency all week and cleaning for the weekend’s entertainment. I don’t often dwell on what you might be doing, but I’m quite sure that you’ve time to relax. With a big sigh and a shake, Diane began to tackle the curtains, convincing herself that having a go at the sticky grime round the cooker hood later, would be good for her soul. Feeling good about life in general was helping to fuel this burst of energy.
“Susie!” she called upstairs. “Could you come and help me for a minute? Please!”
“I’ll just be a minute,” came the happy reply.
With a thundering rush down the stairs, the twins evacuated their room, anxious they might be missing something.
“What’s happening, Mum?” It was Matt who reached her first.
Turning from where she was perched on the step stool, reaching for a curtain, Diane just had time to hear Jon’s, “can I help too?” in the split second before he hurtled into the steps.
Diane was flung like a rag doll across the kitchen.
- - - o o o O o o o - - -
“What’s happened? Mum! Susie come quickly, Mummy’s dead!” He was running round in small circles, with Matt, the stronger of the two, chasing after him, trying to calm his brother down, as their mother lay motionless on the floor. She’d not moved since banging her head on the edge of the work top, as she fell.
Eight year old Susie was not much better, as she came white faced into the kitchen, gaping at this terrible scene. But with great inner strength she did what she could. “Matt! Jon! Please stand still. We’ve got to do something.”
Slowly, as if afraid that she might awaken her, Susie crept over to where her mother was lying. Never having seen a dead body before, made her very scared. Accepting the twins’ diagnosis of their mum’s plight had seemed right to her childish reasoning.
“I must dial 999,” she shouted. Hearing her own voice gave her a kick start and suddenly she became business like, and seemingly older than her years. “Matt! Go next door and fetch Wendy or Bill,” she called over her shoulder as she went to the telephone that was fixed to the wall in the kitchen. “My Mummy’s dead,” she whispered into the hand set.
Just uttering the words brought on floods of tears. Wendy came rushing in with Matt, as Susie struggled to give details. Grabbing the phone, Wendy their next door neighbour took over, telling the operator the address and telephone number.
In real time, this whole episode had taken no longer than a few minutes, and Wendy’s next priority was to make the patient comfortable. There was no stopping the tears and anguish, from the children, as she approached Diane’s lifeless body. So much so, that as Bill came hurrying in, he had to immediately round up the children and take them into the garden.
“She’s breathing,” Wendy called through the back door, just as the faint clanging of the ambulance came into hearing. “I think she's knocked herself out,” came the next report. A minute later, there was a ring on the bell and Diane was efficiently carted off to hospital, with reassurance to the children that Mummy was going to be all right.
“Why isn’t she dead?” Jon piped up, as they piled into Bill’s old camper van. Wendy had wanted to come too, so with their two children Andrew and Jack, it was quite a squash.
“She never was dead, you dummy,” Andrew’s superior nine year old knowledge, informed Jon. “I saw someone who’d been run over once and. . . .”
“Andrew! That’s enough, thank you.”
“. . . .he was covered in blood,” Andrew added hastily, at which point the twins started to wail again.
“Stop! Now!” Bill admonished, and silence fell over both families.