Excerpt from 'The Instructions of Miss Mary Jones'
Dear Mr Rowlands
As I see from the newsletter that you are still churchwarden, may I ask you a slightly out-of-the-ordinary favour? You were so kind when I last came to church - all the trouble you went to. Your wife too, when I telephoned that day last spring and kept her talking for hours. I am usually so brief on the phone.
I have known for several years that I shall not live very long. I only get about near my house now. Fortunately there are a few shops nearby and my neighbour is very good, coming in most days. My nephew Ian pops over from Swansea when he can, but that is not very often because his wife seems so busy.
My illness is strange. I feel bad only on certain days, but it drags me down constantly. When I am feeling well, I worry about how I will be when I wake next morning. Dr. Tom is charming, I must say, but rather flippant. Miss Jones, he says, you will be with us a long time yet. He says he can find nothing wrong with me. When I go he will be surprised, and I am only sorry that I will not have the satisfaction of hearing him admit that I was right after all.
Unfortunately, of course, my doctor’s refusal to take seriously Unfortunately, of course, my doctor’s refusal to take seriously how ill I am means that he is unlikely to be alert enough to give me decent notice of my demise, which is why I have been thinking again about where my ashes will be buried. I now owe you an apology. Despite all the rigmarole you went through to have a plot reserved for me in the churchyard, I wish to relinquish it in order to have my ashes scattered with my mother’s among the roses at Thornhill. Do you think, nevertheless, that your nice vicar would still take my funeral? Would you ask her for me?...
Our first anthology of short stories from The Scottish Arts Club Short Story Competition 2014-2018