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Story from Sally

sunset on water photo by Unsplash

THE SURPRISE by Sally Stackhouse

All hope died when Daphne suffered complications on the operating table.  It was supposed to be a routine operation but things didn’t go quite to plan.  The surgical team did everything they possibly could using all the surgical tools at their disposal but it wasn’t to be.

At the funeral Doris couldn’t keep the tears away.  She and her sister were inseparable as children with only 18 months between them.  Daphne was the older sibling and consequently the bossy one.  Doris didn’t mind that as she enjoyed playing second fiddle to her beautiful soul mate.  That is what they referred to each other us.  When they talked, even on the telephone, they made the same hand gesture, body movements and nods of the heads in agreement of the other’s point or even on very rare occasions, shakes of their heads as they might disagree with each other. 

Doris remembered their childhood fondly as she zoned out of the drone of the vicar’s elegy.  They lived in a large house with massive grounds, with an orchard that grew the most delicious Granny Smith apples every autumn. 

Dan, their father, had built a tree house a few years before they were born in the hopes that his sons would use it as a secret hideout.  He hid his disappointment well when his family consisted of two daughters.  Sandra laughed at her husband frequently knowing his wish for sons to carry on the family business but as she always reminded him, girls can do anything boys can!

A point in fact was when Daphne and Doris both donned bomber jackets, always a pair to look chic and up-to-date, as they grew older and more advanced in their years, they slowly became slightly more conformist in their attire, still with that added flair and elegance they were both known for.

A few weeks later Doris had the unenviable task of sorting through her sister’s bits and pieces. 

She managed to crouch down and peer under Daphne’s King size bed.  Why she wanted such a big bed just for herself Doris really couldn’t say, apart from the fact that when they shared a bed as children Daphne was always spread-eagled across the whole bed.  She did like to hog everything – even the limelight. 

Doris pulled out a wooden box, gingerly she placed it on the beautiful coverlet on the bed, taking a deep breath she opened the lid.

All of Daphne’s treasures, mementoes and keepsakes were in there, from brooches to birthday cards, condolence cards when they lost their parents, so that’s were they went.  Huh!  As Doris rummaged through a lifetime of memories, she pulled out a postcard. 

Well, well, what a dark horse her sister was. Doris remembered Daphne saying she wanted to explore and have one last fling before retirement and boredom set in.  She didn’t say where she was going but she was gone for about a year.  This seemed to be the only memento of that time that Daphne treasured.  Such a beautiful picture Doris thought.  Just look at that sunset and the three men rowing a canoe.  Such an evocative picture.  Doris didn’t need to have travelled there to appreciate the poignancy of the scene.  It brought tears to her eyes, tears that fell on to her cheeks of happiness and sadness and joy and loss.

She wished with her whole heart that Daphne was here so she could tell her about this particular trip she had undertaken.  It wasn’t to be.  They thought they would have all the time in the world now that they were both retired.  In fact, they were planning to move nearer to each other, maybe a manageable ground floor flat each (not next door to each other, that would be too much) but close enough to visit when they wanted without it being too much of a hassle. 

Doris thought she would still look for something easier to manage than her house, the stairs were becoming difficult, the upkeep expensive and the cleaning – well the cobwebs would just have to sit in the corners and crevices keeping her company.  Yes, that is what she would do and she would keep all of Daphne’s memories on a special shelf in her new abode.

Word count: 739

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