Morris padded across the kitchen linoleum to put the kettle on for what would be the last time in his life. Winter’s final onslaught had struck with teeth. Outside, frost whitened the grass and ice glossed the front gate. It stuck to the fingertips of the stranger as he opened it. The rising sun was still a faint promise on the eastern horizon, not even the birds had responded to its faint glow. Inside, the house had retained some warmth.
Morris should have worn his slippers because it was so cold, but he couldn’t find them. His carer had a habit of putting things away, and not always where they belonged. His joints protested as he moved, popping and grinding while he gritted his false teeth at the sudden flares of pain.
The edge of the sink took his weight as he struggled to turn off the tap. It dripped if he didn’t turn the faucet enough, too much and it was exercise in pain for his swollen fingers when he tried to budge it next time. The water took an age to boil, at first just a hiss from the electric kettle, then the rumble of the water within, and an eruption of steam, all the while the bright glow of an incongruously blue light, which cut out at a predetermined temperature.
The thought of taking a trek to the toilet at the end of the hallway crossed his mind. But the painful journey there, and the usual disappointment he felt when his urine came out as less than a trickle, thanks to the occlusion caused by his enlarged prostate, was enough to make him wait. The bottle by the bed was repellent, but a necessary evil these days.
He poured his tea carefully at the bench. He’d chosen a large mug but only half filled it, knowing that it stood a better chance of remaining in the cup as he made his way back to bed. Step by painful step was accompanied by the sound of his deep inhalations, wheezes and rattles, so loud even he could hear it. When Morris reached his bed it was like arriving in paradise. He settled his tea on the table by the bedside and burrowed beneath his quilt.