Bedtime Fiction Contemporary

Reticent but resolute, he waltzed into the kitchen to make her the tea recently requested. The hum of the freezer fused into a samba with the sound of the kettle at work. Immediately, his mind wandered to what the weekend ahead would be like if the expected helper does not show up.

The last few weeks of having to take care of her more than ever before have been really stressful. They were however made more bearable by her brother as well as his deep love for them both. But now that her beloved brother is billed to return to his base later today, an appropriate assistant will be absolutely appreciated. He also remembered he would need to intimate her of the important call she has to expect. Just then, the popping sound signifying the water coming to boiling point snaps him out of his reverie.

With a deftness that has become second nature by reason of the last two decades, he promptly made the tea while not forgetting to add her favourite flavouring! He quickly took it to her, piping hot, as she likes it.

He watched satisfyingly as she took the tea, sweating profusely but becoming less pale with every sip. He also looked forward to hearing her habitual “Thank you; that was really nice!” Additionally, seeing the contentment mixed with gratitude on her face is usually priceless. Thankfully, the worst is likely over according to the last check of the doctors. But what exactly is the situation? What would the expected result to the last series of tests be? “It’s time to tell her about the call”, he resolved.

As he was about to broach the subject, her telephone started to ring. Startled, she looked at him with a questioning frown. He immediately understood her thought: “When did you switch on my phone? I thought we agreed to leave it off until early next week when we put it off a week ago!”

“Sweetheart, it is true it was to stay off for at least ten days so you could have sufficient time to rest, relax and recuperate... But the youngest of your doctors called me yesterday night to complain that he had been trying to reach you without success… hence I switched it on this morning just before you woke up. I was actually just about to tell you", he lovingly said.

Appreciating him, she downed the remainder of the tea and reached for the phone. He briskly picked up the mug and sauntered back into the kitchen. Though anxious to know what was so important that the doctor insisted on personally telling her, he proceeded to making a special breakfast for her, her brother and himself. Spanish eggs with spinach and prawns have never failed to cheer everyone up. This delicacy became a family favourite on an holiday trip to Spain seven years ago. On that trip, a brown-eyed boy did not drown because of her brother’s heroic act.

What more? It was on that trip he invented a game in which one player swims to reach a throne in order to receive a golden brown crown while dodging drone attacks of the other player and simultaneously ensuring that the baby being held does not drown. Fortunately, he made a substantial amount and still gets some residual income from the idea. The game company that purchased it still produces and profitably sells.

Meanwhile, she exchanged pleasantries with the doctor and apologized for having been unreachable before explaining why. He sheepishly told her there were two very important reasons for his call. With a curious and somewhat worrisome look, she gingerly started walking out of the room in search of her loving and committed carer. She definitely did not want to hear whatever this dainty doctor had to say alone.

Eager to reach the kitchen before allowing the conversation to continue, she asked him to kindly hold on for a few minutes...

On reaching the threshold of the kitchen, the appetizing aroma of the Spanish eggs with spinach and prawns made her give a thumbs up to her “current chief chef” before motioning to him to please keep quiet and listen in on the conversation with her...

Swiftly putting the phone on speaker mode, she thanked the doctor for holding on and asked him to continue the discussion. The doctor then announced that the first reason for calling was professional while the other was personal. On the professional level, he informed her that the last test carried out on her was a false positive so she could relax more and expect to fully recover within a week.

With tears of joy streaming down her face, she collapsed into a chair by the dining table and the telephone fell from her hand. Highly alert and attentive, her chief carer used his shoes to cushion the fall of the smartphone, picked it up, told the doctor to please call back in five minutes, then cuddled her in his arms, rejoicing with and thanking God for her.

“My little girl, now a lovely lady, has been spared the agony of having a terminal disease!”, he thought to himself. The loss of her mother - his wife - twenty years ago when she was just a little over two years old and her brother was five, seemed like yesterday. He recalled resolving to take care of them as resiliently as possible even if he would have to constantly battle reticence!

Like clockwork, the doctor called back in five minutes. By this time, she had regained her composure. Picking up with gusto, she responded … “yes, my dear doctor, thanks for the good news you just gave me!” Stuttering, he asked if she was okay and sought to know what really happened when he heard a thud before her father abruptly requested he call back. Smiling, she told him it was essentially a momentary but momentous assimilation of what was said. Still stammering, he wondered aloud if he could progress to the personal discourse.

At this juncture, her father discreetly disappeared so as to let them freely talk...

With a teasing tone, she told him she was now all alone before enquiring if he was shy. He solemnly replied, “I'm shy but not sly.”

January 14, 2022 00:52

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Louise Muller
05:48 Jan 21, 2022

I received your story from the Critique Circle and I truly enjoyed reading it. It is a well-written story that manages to awaken a range of emotions. Well done!


18:41 Jan 21, 2022

Louise, thanks for the feedback. It's very much appreciated.


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Alice Stannard
16:44 Jan 20, 2022

I received your story from the Critique Circle and was very happy to read your story. I can certainly tell that you put a lot of thought into your craft. I enjoyed reading your story, and in the interest of giving some constructive criticism, I just have one suggestion. Perhaps there would be a way to shorten certain sentences while still conveying the same emotion or feeling. The tension in the story might flow a little easier or quicker. As an example, the following sentence might be condensed and made less cumbersome: "Stuttering, he a...


18:40 Jan 21, 2022

Thank you for the constructive criticism. Very well appreciated Alice.


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