The heat from the fire was comforting as the three electric bars glowed brightly in their metal cage. Nora peeked across the room over the rim of her Reader’s Digest. Gerald was snoring lightly, with his half-moon spectacles balanced on the end of his nose, a thin ribbon of drool sliding down his chin onto the edge of his striped pyjamas. His half-read newspaper had fallen to the floor, and the cat had curled up on top of the unfinished cricket scores. She closed her book, turning over the corner of the page she had been reading so as not to lose the article on herbaceous borders, and placed it down next to her half –drunk Horlicks. Nora slid out of her chair, and grabbed the armrest. Carefully kicking off her sheepskin slippers and, sliding her wheeled table out of the way, she hitched up her velvet dressing gown and padded towards him. She slid her hand under his pyjama top, rubbing his arm gently. He smacked his lips together, as though he could taste the cod in parsley sauce they had for supper. His eyes flickered open and he squinted at the light and the looming shadow in front of him. Gerald could see she wanted him to follow her. He took off his glasses and placed them on the coffee table as he rose out of his chair, his knees and back cracking as he straightened up. She reached forward and grabbed the long-shaft of his walking stick, gnarled and rough, and placed it in his hand. Nora began to negotiate the stairs, gripping the banister, the light from the landing highlighting grey roots in her blue rinse. Gerald could hardly wait to get to bed; he settled onto the green padded cushion of his Stannah stair lift and flicked the button, slowly ascending towards her waddling behind as she stumbled up the last two steps. Nora padded into the bathroom as Gerald sank down on the edge of the double divan. She returned after a few moments, passing Gerald a cold and cloudy glass of tap water into which he dropped his teeth with a quiet splash. She placed her own glass onto the bedside table and removed her top denture, dropping it into the glass and adding the cleaning tablet with a plop and a fizz. Gerald had already slid under the 15-tog duvet and was smoothing out the wrinkles on his V-pillow. Nora slipped her shoulders out of her gown and placed it next to the commode, then slid under the paisley polyester, her hand brushing Gerald’s as she fumbled for the TV remote. Gerald gripped the handrail as he slid open the drawer under the dimly lit touch lamp and pulled out a blister pack of Viagra, his face falling as he realised it was empty. He could’ve sworn there were a couple left.
Nora smiled to herself as she pressed the remote and the TV flickered into life on the opening credits of Question Time. She sank back into the memory foam pillow and her eyes glinted happily knowing that Gerald would not be able to get another doctor’s appointment until late next week and that the little blue pills dissolving in the U-bend of the toilet would be completely gone by the morning.