He followed the sound of raucous music from the radio and found her in the kitchen, sobbing. The silence as he cut the power caused her to turn and she hurriedly rubbed the heels of her palms across her face to wipe away the tears as if she could hide them from him. “What are you doing out of bed? You know what the doctor said.”
He folded his arms around her and held her close, allowing her to cry into his shoulder while her stroked her hair. The loose curls clutched at his fingers, the grey roots showing beneath the chestnut dye. He remembered when her hair had been that colour naturally, sweeping around her shoulders like a television advertisement. When had they got so old?
“Shh.” He kissed the side of her head, the nearest he could reach to her face. “I was only joking, love.”
“I don't think the thought of you dying is very funny.” Beryl sniffed and pulled away, reaching for a sheet of kitchen towel from the roll next to the bread bin. She wiped her nose as she turned to face him. “I don't think I could manage without you.”
“I know. I'm sorry. It was a stupid thing to say. I don't know what I'd do without you, either.” He held up his hands in a supplicant’s prayer. “I promise to get healthy.”
“Good.” She thumped his arm lightly. “Now go and get back into bed, and turn the radio on again. I like company when I'm cooking.”