GET WELL SOON by Harris Coverley
He was sat in his big leather chair in front of the roaring fire I had built for him, gurning and shouting at me: “My cup of tea! Where’s my cuppa, woman!”
I brought his cup of tea in from the kitchen and handed it to him. He did not thank me, continuing to moan between sips.
I was very young when I married him, and him much older. He had seemed so kind and handsome when he was in his thirties, myself but a child fresh out of secondary modern. But with him then fast approaching eighty, and me still looking pretty fine for a fifty-something, I was tied down to a decrepit old lag.
He had just returned from hospital for routine heart surgery, and across the mantelpiece was lined up the seven cards from the shower of disgusting bastards that called themselves his friends: Pete, Dave, Bill, Charles, Seb, Randolph, and Curtis. They were embossed with the shiny old empty platitudes such as “Hope You’re Feeling Better” and “Get Well Soon”.
I sat close to him in the loveseat, trying to knit a new winter scarf, while he continued to whinge about the supposed lack of cleanliness of the house I had just scrubbed especially for his return home. He was ignoring the doctor’s advice about “taking it easy”.
He pointed to the mantelpiece and yelled: “You didn’t even dust the mantel for my cards, you cow!”
With that he suddenly threw what was left in the cup into my lap. It was lukewarm by that point, but it shocked me well enough, and ruined the scarf for sure.
I let the ruined wool drop to the floor and stood up. I was quiet, but I had had enough. I walked over to the mantelpiece and turned to look at him.
“I’m sorry, love,” I said. “Tell you what, I’ll clean up a bit…”
I picked up Pete’s card, tore it in two, and threw it in the fire.
He grabbed his chest and yelled: “You bitch!”
“Sorry,” I continued, “just getting rid of some rubbish…”
I then picked up Dave’s card, and repeated the process. The old git clutched at his heart, leaning forward.
“Please!” he pleaded. “Wait, no!”
It was with Bill’s card that I finally realised that what I did to the cards was having a direct effect on him. For whatever reason, the gods had decided that there was to be a cosmic link between the well-being of his heart and the integrity of these cheap pointless ephemera. Every tear, every lick of the flame, brought him further agony—so I carried on. Charles, Seb, Randolph… rip and tear and crush…
By the time I got to the last card, Curtis’s, he was kneeling on the floor, trying to crawl towards me, coughing out hacking groans, scratching at his ribs with a look of sheer desperation. It felt good to have power for the first time in nearly four decades.
I matched his gaze as I made my final severing, and spun the pieces upon the firewood. He made a final yelp, before he fell onto his face. I checked his pulse: he was stone dead.
I stared at his body for a few minutes, soaking in his demise, before I went over to the phone to make the call for an ambulance. I thought of all the good times we had had together—way back in the earlier days of course—and that was enough to make me choke up and sound convincingly distressed to the emergency call dispatcher.
After I put the phone down, I dried my eyes, and walked back over to the fire. I picked up the large iron poker we had shared and stirred the smouldering ashes amongst the burning logs.
Harris Coverley has short fiction published or forthcoming in Horror Magazine, Theme of Absence, and Eldritch Journal. He is also a Rhysling-nominated poet, with verse in Star*Line, Spectral Realms, Scifaikuest, View from Atlantis, and many others. He lives in Manchester, England.