There were plenty of flies about, unfortunately. Winslow did his best to keep them out of Madeline's breakfast as he made it.
"Horrid creatures." he said to his sister-in-law, "The reason I don't mind spiders."
His sister-in-law giggled.
She sat at the table drinking coffee, though she wasn't touching it much.
"The mess is attracting them." she said, "You need to clean up."
Winslow finished scrambling his wife's eggs and lifted up the pan from the burner. He held it over the little white plate on the tray on the counter next to the stove and used the spatula to scrape them from the pan and onto the plate.
"I'm clueless when it comes to housework." he said, "When Madeline gets better remind me to join her in cleaning."
"What if she doesn't get better?" his sister-in-law asked.
"I don't have to worry about that. She'll be up and about in no time at all."
"But what if? Will you hire a maid? Or would you remarry?"
Winslow glared at her.
"How many god forsaken times," he began, "do I have to turn down your advances?!"
He slammed the pan down onto the stovetop, then turned the burner off.
"She is your sister!" he shouted at his sister-in-law, turning to face her as he did so, "Act like it and wish her well!"
His sister-in-law went limp and slumped over the table.
Winslow raised an eyebrow at her, then sighed and shook his head.
He turned back to the tray of breakfast he had made, and picked it up carefully. Then he made his way out of the kitchen and into the livingroom.
His wife's doctor was there, standing beside the fireplace, holding the fire poker in his left hand.
"Oh doctor!" he said to him, "You're still here."
The doctor nodded.
"Thought I'd stay and see if Madeline eats her breakfast." he said.
"I made her smaller portions." he said, "Thought maybe it'd be less intimidating."
"You're a good man, Mr. Graves." the doctor said, "I can tell you love her dearly."
"She's my life."
The doctor smiled, then frowned and batted away a fly.
"You really ought to clean up." he said, "The fifth's what's attracting the flies, you know."
"I know." Winslow said, "I'm absolutely clueless when it comes to housework and the like. I've really come to appreciate all my wife does to keep this place running smoothly now that she can't."
The doctor nodded.
"Mr. Graves," he asked, "if, and god forbid, your wife doesn't regain her health, what do you plan to do?"
"I don't have to worry about that, doctor." Winslow assured him.
"Mr. Graves, I'm very sorry, but as her doctor I can assure you that the possibility reay should be at the back on your mind. It's awful, but thousands of people die from this disease every day."
Winslow glared at him.
"Doctor," he said, "I am not paying you to tell me my wife may die, I am paying you to make sure she does not."
The doctor suddenly went limp, and fell down, landing at the foot of the hearth.
Winslow stood up a little straighter.
"Doctor?" he asked.
The doctor didn't respond.
Winslow frowned, then glanced down to the tray in his hands.
"I'll be right back, doctor." he said.
Then he turned and made his way down the hall to his and his wife's bedroom.
He put the tray down on a little table up against the wall beside the door for a moment, then grabbed the doorknob and opened the door up wide. Then he picked up the tray again, and stepped inside and over to his bed, where his wife slept soundly.
"Madeline," he said, "breakfast."
He approached her beside side, and sat the tray down on her lap. Then he sat down beside her, and took her bony little hand in his own.
"Strange," he said, "your skin rather is dry or the summertime."
A fly landed on her nose and began dancing around on her blackened face.
He reached out and waved it away.
"You're too passive, my dear." he said to her.
He brought up her hand and kissed it.
Then he just sat there and stared at her.
And Madeline just laid there, silent, unmoving, and dead.
He furrowed his brow.
"Say something." he demanded, "Damn it woman, say something to me!"
He received no reply.
He stood up.
"Stop it!" he told her, "We've talked about this! I need you! I can't live without you! You're being selfish!"
He was met with silence.
"Do you hate me, Madeline?" he asked, "I love you. I love you to the moon and back. I simply can't picture myself without you, I love you so much."
Another fly landed on her face.
Winslow reached out and waved it away.
"If you do hate me," he said, "that's fine, I understand. But you are still Madeline, and I'll never stop loving you."
He leaned down and kissed her head.
"Please eat your breakfast." he said after.
He stood up straight, then made his way out of their room. He closed the door behind himself.