The hand moved across the table, casting a shadow under the glare of the uncovered light bulb, now dull with dust. There was still strength in the hand, and a life of hard work and physical activity showed in the knots of vein and muscle as it moved.
A muscular forefinger which had shot and killed men in war, under orders and without hesitation, now lifted, paused then started to tap, without rhythm, on the plastic table. The window rattled as the wind picked up snow and threw it against the glass, a draught blowing past the single pane. The finger stopped while a deep, chesty cough ripped the silence and echoed in the room devoid of furniture except the table and two chairs. A car horn beeped twice outside
“It’s time,” said the voice, finding breath once again.
“Yes love, it’s time to go.”
“They’ll look after us Eve.”
The hand reached out across the table and grasped one no less young but smaller and softer and cold to the touch. A sob broke the brief silence.
“54 years in this house George. We raised children who’ve raised their children and all the while we’ve stayed here. It breaks my heart to leave it yet…”
Another gust of frigid air escaped from the rattling window pane.
“At least we’ll be warm my love, and we’ll have company our own age.”
The smaller hand gave another squeeze.
“You’re right George, I guess we have to go.”
The hand, cold and white at the fingertips, helped Eve to her feet and into her coat. It reached for the light switch, and hesitated, as it touched away a solitary tear from a wrinkled cheek. Wind tore past the loose window pane.
“At least we’ll be warm, Eve.”