The Silk by Joy Cowley

The Silk by Joy Cowley

This item came from China. On the fabric there were a lot of beautiful images made with great skill. These were trees and mountains, the tops of which were hidden in the fog. There were waterfalls in the foam and birds with bright feathers. This fabric was too beautiful to wear or cut with scissors. It lay in the room and made it more beautiful by its presence. For many years it had been laying in a box, waiting for its time. And once the chance has come. In another autumn, Mr. Blackie fell ill. His wife understood – this was the end. They talked about this day many times and she was ready. Mrs. Blackie tried to take care of her husband until the last day. She tried to earn more to buy his favorite food and make his last days more enjoyable and comfortable.

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The Silk by Joy Cowley

It came from China, a piece of blue silk that lit up the room with its colours – the peacocks with their shining silvery tails, the blue lakes and the white waterfalls, the cloudy mountains and the dark blue trees. It was too lovely to wear, too beautiful to cut with scissors.

The Silk by Joy Cowley

All through the long years of a marriage, the silk had stayed safely in its box – waiting, but not forgotten. And now the time had come…

When Mr Blackie became ill again that autumn, both If he and Mrs Blackie knew that it was for the last time. For many weeks, neither spoke of it; but the understanding was in their eyes as they watched each other through the days and nights. It was a look seen in the faces of the old and the very young, neither sad, nor hopeless, just a quiet understanding; they accepted what was coming.

It showed in other ways too. There were no more cross words from Mrs Blackie about her lazy old husband. Instead, she took care of him day and night. She managed their money carefully to buy him his favourite foods; she let the district nurse visit him, but no more than twice a week.

Mr Blackie went to his bed and stayed there quietly. He had never talked much about the past, but now he spoke a lot about their earlier days. Sometimes, to Mrs Blackie’s surprise, he remembered things that she had forgotten. He talked very little about the present and never in those weeks about the future.

Then, on the first icy morning of the winter, while Mrs Blackie was filling his hot water bottle, he sat up in bed to see out the window. He could see a row of houses outside, with ice on the grass in front of them, like a white carpet.

‘The ground will be hard,’ he said at last. ‘Hard as a rock.’

Mrs Blackie looked up quickly. ‘Not yet,’ she said.

‘Soon, I think.’ He smiled, but she knew he was saying sorry to her. She put the hot water bottle into its cover.

‘Lie down or you’ll catch cold,’ she said.

He lay back against the pillow, but as she moved about him, putting the hot water bottle at his feet, he stared at the shapes of ice on the window.

‘Amy, you’ll get a double plot, won’t you?’ he said. ‘I won’t rest easy if I think that one day you’re going to sleep by someone else.’

What a thing to say!’ The corners of her mouth moved suddenly. ‘You know very well I won’t do that…

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