Kate looked up sharply. She was seeing things again - the brief shadow
that moved across the room when it thought her attention was
"How many times now?" she mused. So many that it no longer made her
jump, or ponder anxiously for a few moments: it had become just like
acknowledging the presence of a family member. Kate wondered if it was
a "presence" or merely the advancing years taking their toll on her
vision. Her eyes were not clear as once they were: she noticed this
most of the time as her work consisted of sewing for other people:
curtains, dresses, letting out, taking in; often she wondered why they
bothered as it would be just as cheap to buy ready-made. Still, it eked
out her pension and kept her in touch with the world.
Kate adjusted her position in the old brown chair that she kept just to
do her sewing. It looked incongruous in the tiny ground floor flat, so
neat and new with pale pink carpet, matching curtains, delicate floral
patterned wallpaper and brand new cream sofa. She kept it because it
was comfortable. The sofa was too soft and she found it difficult to
get up again once settled into it.
Again, she looked up sharply: something white was heading straight for
her at great speed. She stared at it angrily, hackles raised, like a
cat about to defend its territory, and it seemed to slow, then melt and
finally multiply. She was surrounded by a ring of white-coated figures,
their arms outstretched, some beckoning, some trying to take hold of
"NO!" she shouted, trying to struggle away from them.
"Kate, it's time to come", they murmured.
"NO! NO! NO!" she yelled. "Too much left to do, too many things still
"YES!" and this time the voice was firm.
Kate writhed and lurched from side to side; backwards then forwards,
shaking her body, muttering "not coming, not coming, don't want to, not
yet, too soon"; and then, without knowing how, she was in the
comforting arms of her daughter. She felt safe, protected and loved. It
was easy, then, to relax and sleep. She was dreaming. She could see her
son come into the room and up to her chair. He seemed upset. He was
using the phone. She could see herself placed on a stretcher. She felt
a sense of shock as they covered her with a sheet, starting with her
"Oh! Am I dead?" she wondered and she drifted into the darkness of