In the arbour away from the continual bustle of the nursing home, the old lady sat slumped in her wheelchair in the late afternoon sun. Only the slight rise and fall of her chest indicated that she was actually napping.
Her chair was beside a table where the remnants of an afternoon tea for four had been laid. The beautiful arbour with the climbing roses provided a wonderful private oasis where the nursing home residents were allowed to entertain their guests on special occasions.
The old lady’s plate with its uneaten slice of birthday cake provided a feast for the busy flies. The other plates scrapped clean along with the empty tea cups told that the other three guests had long since departed.
The arbour was quiet as the old lady stirred and woke with a little start. Her mouth flopping open and shut as if she were about to finish saying something she had left unsaid before she had fallen asleep.
She looked at the three empty places and sighed. The guests’ departure was really no surprise.
Looking down she saw the dark crouched shape beside her chair. She smiled and thought as always her shadow was there to keep her company.
It made her sad to see the shape her lifelong companion was now. She believed she had tried so hard to keep mobile and independent, the car accident had been unexpected and simply a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The old lady thought back to all the times when it had been just her and her shadow. She had never really felt alone when there was sunshine or moonlight to show her that tall dark shape tagging along.
She did not feel alone now as her breathing started to labour and she slumped again. As she closed her eyes and felt the tenuous links start to slip away.