My hands grasp at my throat, desperately trying to push the liquid back up my oesophagus. They do this seemingly of their own accord, because I know it is too late as I feel the hot burn of my evening scotch treacherously warming my stomach, spreading the arsenic that leaves a surprisingly tangy aftertaste.

My mental note of the taste of mortality makes me almost chuckle with horror at the details noticed in the moments before death. My eyes move to the ugly drapes behind my your head. I notice a tiny hole – a cigarette burn – you had come home early and almost caught me smoking when–

STOP IT, the important things – what are the important things? Concentrate on those…

My consciousness dozes. Lazy. And my eyes roll, pausing only momentarily on your face at the other end of the table.

Every beat of my heart is an ignorant betrayal. My fear too: working in partnership – urging my heart to go faster. Faster and faster. If only I could keep calm… Maybe then I could cheat a little more time from death…

I am alone in my despair; both body and emotion have turned against me… Keep calm.

'til death do us part' – death would certainly be doing that sooner than later. It's almost funny how seriously you seem to have taken that vow, though–

ARGH!! –I move to grab my stomach as it convulses, trying to expel your poison but my arms don't move. Not only this, but my muscles punish me for even considering it. I can feel them as if they were cold – prickling sensations remind me, as if I needed it, that my blood is turning into a toxic tonic – feeding my whole system.

Kidneys. Liver. They would go first. Multi-organ failure they call it. Surely this is a nightmare… I am going to wake up and it will be 10 years ago.

We were happy then.

You get up from your seat as I fall off mine – balance and reactions are long gone, so I hit our hardwood dining room floor with the unpleasant thud of dead weight. My stomach muscles make another attempt – but the clench is a feeble one and comes to nothing. My eyes roll again and my lids close as I hear the clicking heels approach your ruin of a husband.

You mutter something to me as you crouch beside my writhing body. NO– I will not let you take my final moments with your hate. Happy things, good things… THINK.

Claire, darling Claire, what will she think became of me? What will you say to her? I won't see her again – I won't see her graduation, her wedding day, my grandchildren. How could you give her a murderer for a mother? I can see her face; blotched and ruined with tears for me.

YOU BITCH! I force my eyes open to look at your face. You have a satisfied smile wending its way across your lips.

"I'm sorry about all this," you say placidly. Like you are gesturing at some milk that you've spilled, "it really is sh–"

You do keep talking, but my body has begun to scream. Your voice is drowned in pain as I feel my heart struggle to beat in the same rhythm that it has kept up faithfully for the last forty-six years.

It's hopeless, I find myself begging for blackness – the kind of blackness that is devoid of the stars and shapes that are finding their way behind my eyelids.

I think of Claire.

Soon, it's soon.

Keep calm.

Claire….

Calm. Keep –