'Kestrel' by Adam Trodd

He winces at the prospect of getting voice mail but she picks up just as the fourth ring finishes.
‘Hey.’
‘Hi.’
‘How are you feeling?’
‘Not so bad.’
She’s being brave for him and it breaks his heart but he doesn’t let it show in his voice. His throat though, is filling with a lump of weeping that he swallows. Eyes closed, he imagines her diminished form as if he’s hovering over the bed.
‘You’ll never guess what I saw a minute ago.’
‘What?’
‘There was a bird of prey on the ledge above my office, eating a finch or something. I was sitting at my desk and all these feathers just started floating past the window so I got up to have a look.’
He hears her shifting in the bed. Dry saw breath. The phone falls. Muffled finger tips locate it, and hold it to her ear again. No hair now to pin behind it with a sweep of her finger like she used to. He remembers his lips touching the soft lobe in the hushed kiss of a lover’s whisper. ‘You’ll be sorry you married me.’ she had said. He laughed it off but secretly worried. He wants to tell her that he’d marry her again in the morning if he could.
‘That sounds exciting.’
‘I took a picture on my mobile. I’ll send it to you.’
‘Okay.’
He waits for more but there is no more.
‘Do you want me to go?’
‘I don’t mind.’
The tears come, full and fat, sprinkling the keyboard when he blinks.
‘I want to be there with you. It’s killing me to be here when you’re... I still love you, sweetheart.’
He sighs deeply and waits.

It takes him a moment to realise that she’s already gone.

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