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The Vow

by Jubbly 

Posted: 09 January 2005
Word Count: 357
Summary: Inspired by a reader's letter in my local newspaper. Also for the hard of hearing flash challenge.

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The Vow

I lay here trapped, as I have done for the past fifty years. I feel so hot and sticky sweat trickles down my arm, only to dry out and leave me chilled in its wake. We breathe together, his breathing deeper than mine, he exhales after me and out of habit I hold my breath so that we can synchronise. Why? I know not. I’m old now and my body aches and bruises easily. He doesn’t notice, “How did that happen?” he asks genuinely concerned by the yellowish browny blobs that appear on my wrinkled skin. I shake my head and attempt to explain. But he chooses not to hear, and I’m so vague in my confession for fear of hurting his feelings I can’t really blame him. He coughs, an unholy racket bursting through his rib cage, he takes me with him on this bronchial adventure, we shake, rattle and roll and still he grips me, I've been on fairground rides that are less disruptive. I’ve taken to sighing every so often, even murmuring softly, but he doesn’t take the hint. Here I stay wrapped in a spooned embrace of suffocation. On our wedding night he made me feel safe, I was his, his to love and cherish and protect, his to cuddle up to in the dark silent night. But now that our Golden Anniversary has come and gone I no longer feel safe, I feel that I’m being buried alive, the very opposite of a vampire, I’m only truly free when the sun comes up and he rolls over and chirps, “Good Morning luv, put the kettle on then shall I? “

“Tell him,” my friend says. She’s long widowed and extols the virtues of sleeping alone on a daily basis. So I try again, “Darling…..since my arthritis, I find it very uncomfortable…..when.……ah…”

He looks up, those kind loving eyes taking me in, he nods.

“That would be lovely dear, and maybe a slice of Battenberg while you’re at it dear.”

I fear only death will release me, and it won’t matter who goes first, the end result will be the same.

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Comments by other Members

crowspark at 14:12 on 09 January 2005  Report this post
This is very poignant Julie with great details. Fine writing as ever.

The fact that he is kind, concerned and "attentive" only makes things worse for her. She needs to go on an assertiveness course.

Loved the neatness and implied meaning in the last sentence.


Jubbly at 15:01 on 09 January 2005  Report this post
Thanks for reading Bill, I think I need to go on an assertiveness course too, though not for the same reason.

Account Closed at 16:36 on 09 January 2005  Report this post
Hi Julie,
What a nightmare - your local n'paper must be a mean read!

we shake, rattle and roll = not sure if the language is suitable - it almost made it seem like fun.

he doesn’t take the hint.= you could drop this or find another way of saying it?

I’m only truly free when the sun comes up and he rolls over and chirps, “Good Morning luv. “ = not sure about all of this. a) does he really stay on top of her all night???
b) could this man chirp?
c) would he really say that GM sounds a tad formal and why misspell love (later he uses dear -twice)

those kind eyes = why kind?

I know what you mean with the last line but I'm not sure 'the end result will be the same' quite says it. Plus the result won't be the same: either she will be able to sleep in peace like her friend or she'll be dead and whatever she believes that means (sorry to be pedantic!)

Good subject matter.


Jubbly at 17:23 on 09 January 2005  Report this post
Thanks Elspeth,
He doesn't roll off her as such but unleashes her body. I might type up the actual letter and post it. I got the impression from the letter that they were a very loving couple but she was a tad claustraphobic, who wouldn't be after fifty years of cuddling eh? Compared to the rest of the paper, this was light relief, I do live in 'murder mile' you know.



Milou at 20:02 on 09 January 2005  Report this post
I thought this was great. Very sad even though it's based on a loving relationship.

I thought "we shake, rattle and roll and still he grips me" was brilliant! Don't change it. Having a little humour in there makes it more poignant.



Silverelli at 06:44 on 10 January 2005  Report this post
Hi Julie,
The first paragraph is great. I really enjoyed how you kept it going. I do agree with Elspeth about "we shake, rattle, and roll", I don't see it fitting. It really took away from the original dialogue you have going in this para. How about:we reach a dip, and he still hangs on.
Also, with the "Good Morning, Luv", is she free because the Golden Anniversary is over and it's morning? She should've been free once the Cialis lost it's life span.

Very original and I completely agree with the last line. excellent.


DerekH at 12:09 on 10 January 2005  Report this post
Julie, this has a very heavy feel about it. Claustrophobic, sleepless nights, and generally grim old age… So sad to feel that while she still cares for her husband, she almost envies her widowed friend (or does she?).
To say I enjoyed it would be wrong because I found it quite sad, but it’s very powerful and effective.

I stumbled over “I feel so hot and warm sticky sweat trickles down my arm”, I just couldn’t help wanting to ignore the word ‘warm’. I liked ‘shake, rattle and roll’ – It gave the impression that she still had a glimmer of good humour left :).

Great flash,


bjlangley at 14:46 on 11 January 2005  Report this post
Hi Julie, I love the phrase 'spooned embrace of suffocation'. In in all a very effective and poignant piece. As for the shake rattle and roll debate, I think it works well in tandem with the 'bronchial adventure'.

All the best,


Jardinery at 19:41 on 12 January 2005  Report this post
Hi Julie

very nicely written though I find the last line weakens it for me.

very sad though and yet truthful.

anisoara at 08:59 on 14 January 2005  Report this post
Hi Julie,

I loved this. This must be fairly widespread, you know? I loved the description of the way they spend their nights together - particularly the section about the "bronchial adventure"!

I think I agree with Jai's comment about the last line, as the idea of death providing release is hinted at above in the line about her widowed friend, and his deaf response to her request "Darling, since my arthritis...." makes a very effective close to this.

Great flash!


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