Sophia Eden was with him whilst he died. It wasn’t how she had expected it to be; like how it was in the movies, where death was accompanied by a loud, sorrowful croak, or the sudden outburst of a secret that unravelled a whole new mystery for the living to solve. No, his life, his wonderful, fascinating life, had simply slipped away with all of his wisdom, like a beautiful, hazy sunset gently disappearing through the pastel blue sky. Albert Carter died in the same way that he had lived; quietly, his suffering silenced by courage.
As she sat, his velvety hand wrapped loosely in hers, she thought back to the day before. When he’d told her he didn’t have long left, she’d wondered, for a second, what that must have felt like, to know that his life was coming to an end; to know that he would no longer step outside into the village and feel the crisp Autumn air on his skin, or hear the joyful hum of the blackbirds as he cast his line on the lake, to know, that he would never again laugh until the insides of his stomach were sore.
Sophia would never know what Albert had been thinking in his last moments as an alert, alive human being, but she hoped that it had been about the good things that had happened to him. About Ivy. And about running around naked in the meadows with her at 4am, for no other reason then the fact that they could. Perhaps Sophia herself had even skirted through his mind. She knew that if she ever had the chance to reflect upon her life before it ended, that she would think of Albert. He had changed her life in ways she didn't think possible, and she would always hold him close to her heart because of it.
Once his hand started to loose its warmth, she kissed his forehead and she thanked him. She thanked him for not letting her stagger past him on that bench on the night she'd drank her bodily weight in wine, and she thanked him for teaching her that the best she could do in life was to honour what was true in her heart.
She rested her face against his for a moment, inhaling his scent for the last time; his final swig of whisky still fresh on his lips. As she pulled herself away and turned from the bed, she picked the final quarter of his mashed banana sandwich from off of his plate on the side, and she ate it, even though the bread had started to stiffen and curl up at the corners.
The tears started to roll freely down her cheeks before she made it to his bedroom door.
She inhaled deeply and left the room, walking into a world that he was no longer a part of.