“Oh, my dear, I am so glad to see you. When you called me
yesterday and said that you would come to my place I got so happy. I remembered our student years immediately. Make yourself at home, please. How
long are you staying here?
You look amazingly perfect, your body’s slim , no wrinkles on your face. Will you tell me your secret?
I am not that perfect like you. I assume you are on one of those different diets and a frequent visitor to fitness clubs, and special centers like that . It seems that you are not more than thirty. When I say how old I am people might be thinking “We thought you are sixty rather than fifty.
Coffee or tea , Martha?”
“Tea first and then coffee. Will you let me say a word at last?”
“Of course my dear. I am just really glad to see you. We haven’t seen each other for ages. I decided to devote my life to my family and to give up my job. And you?
“I have a job. I don’t practice medicine,I am immersed in science. I am currently working on creating new anti-cancer drugs. I have come here to attend a symposium. I am going to spend two to three weeks here. I am single. I used to date one man and we were going to get married, but he turned out to be a scoundrel. I was suffering so much that I even gave up my practice. I don’t have a private life. What private life can I even think about at the age of fifty? I am spending all days at the institute. So what about you?”
‘Well, I am married. My husband is six years older that me. He is a banker. He is at home quite seldom. I have a son. He is thirty years old and married. My daughter passed away from leukaemia when she was seventeen. My family means a great deal to me. I think I would never be able to live alone .
You look really stunning, Martha. Who will think that we are peers.”
“You have bombarded me with compliments, Lora. Oh, who is this?”
Lora’s grandchild a three year old boy came rushing into the room.
“Martin, say hello to Lora. Look what a beautiful lady she is.
This is Nick’s son. He has only one child yet. Martin has been staying here at my place for a few days. Nick is going to take him home today.”
A young man appeared in the door-way.
“Let me introduce my son Nick to you. This is my classmate, Martha.”
Pleased, to meet you, ma’am. You are my mom’s roommate?
I would never think so. You look so young.”
“Thank you sonny and I look so old.”’
Of course not. I didn’t want to hurt you. I wish I looked like Martha in your age.”
“I think it is better when one’s looks goes with one’s age” said Martha.
Martha spent a few hours with Lora. They were talking about their student years all the time. Lora was telling her about her children, about her daughter’s disease and about her husband’s success too.
“You are so happy Lora. I wish I had my own family to tell you about it like you tell me about yours.”
“Martha , why don’t you come to my place every day while you are here. Who knows when we will meet each other again, after another ten years?!”
“Thank you, Lora I will come. I must be going now. Our symposium begins in the morning tomorrow.”
“We have to leave too. May I give you a lift, Martha?”
“Are you sure? I don’t want to bother you.”
“It’s nothing Martha. Nick will be only glad to do you a favor. Why did you decide to stay at a hotel,you could stay here with me.”
“Thank you , Lora but I got used to living alone with my own habits. By the way I love silence.”
“I will be waiting for you tomorrow.”
“All right, I will call you, Lora. Thanks.”
Nick took her to the hotel she was staying at. He was trying to keep up the conversation all the time, but Marta was rather taciturn in her manner.
“Here it is. Thank you.”
“What room are you staying in?”
“I am staying in the room number 403. Why?”
“Just out of curiosity. Sorry . Seven is a lucky number.”
“Thank you. Good bye.”
He was looking at her until she entered the hotel. He was struck by her beauty and looks.
He still couldn’t believe that Martha was the same age as
his mother. Next day Lora called Martha to invite her to have supper together. Martha accepted the invitation , thanked her and said that she would come
without a doubt.
Martha was just about to call Lora. Having taken a bath she decided to drink a cup of coffee first, and then get dressed. She heard a knock at her door suddenly. She was rather surprised as she was not expecting anyone. She opened the door and saw Nick.
“Nick, is that you?”
“Yes, it’s me. I decided to call on you, to take you to my mother’s place. She is waiting for you.”
He was not able to take his eyes off Martha. After a steaming bath in her short bathrobe
She looked really tempting. Nick was not able to control himself. He approached her and drew her closer and started to kiss her. At first, she objected, but thenshe started kissing and embracing him back.
They stayed indoors. Lora called her several times, but Martha didn’t answer the phone call. Nick left the next morning. They agreed to meet each other. Martha was shocked by what she did. What a shame it was. What if Lora learns about it? “I don’t give a damn what she might think about it,” she suddenly thought.
She likes him and he likes her. And she doesn’t care about anything else.“I should call on Lora at least once, but only when I make sure that Nick will not be there.”
The symposium lasted for two weeks, but Martha decided to stay for one more week as she didn’t want to part with Nick. She would call on Lora, and then come back home with Nick who usually stayed at her place till morning. Lora never would have guessed that they were lovers, as for his wife, she was used to her husband’s frequent absence. He was a doctor so he had to stay at the clinic quite often.
The third week passed and Martha began preparing for the departure. Lora with tears in her eyes asked her to come here again without fail when an opportunity presents itself. Nick wrote her phone number and address and told her that he would be sure to come to her place.
Martha was pleased with her visit to their town, she didn’t want to leave at all, but she knew that staying longer could become dangerous. Nick would call her every day, sometimes even several times a day. He was sorry that he hadn’t known her before. He managed to come to her place eventually only after six months. Nick found her house without any difficulty. His heart sank at the thought that they would see each other again. As a matter of fact, she hasn’t replied to his phone calls nor ever called him lately. He couldn’t understand why, but as he was already there he thought that he would find out it soon.
An old woman opened the door.
“Hello, my name is Nick I am Martha’s friend. Can I talk to her?”
“Hello, but she is not at home.”
“But where is she? Are you her mother ma’am?”
She hesitated before answering.
“Yes, I am Martha’s mother. She got married and left with her husband.”
“Got married? When? Where is she living now? Though, what does it matter now! I see why she didn’t call and reply to my phone calls. I am sorry ma’am. Good bye.”
He turned his back on the woman, but after a few steps he turned and told her;
“Please, tell her when she calls you that I love her and that I will never forget her.”
And he left. Nick didn’t look again at the woman who was standing crying in the door-way following him with her eyes.
After a few days Martha was taken into the hospice. She knew that she was dying and since she had so little time left, she decided to write a letter to Nick. In her letter she said that she had been seriously ill for a very long time and that she is in the last stage of cancer. The distinctive feature of the disease lies in the fact that it has so-called rejuvenating effects. A woman starts to look younger before people’s very eyes, but after such an effect one has very little time left just a year and a half or even one year which is the maximum time. Now her time is coming to an end. She is in hospice at the moment and by the time he receives her letter she will have already passed away. She is very grateful to him for the happy memories they shared together and she loves him very much. That old woman who talked to him in the doorway was Martha. The rejuvenating quality had passed and she began to age quickly and her strength started to fail. This is why she didn’t call him nor reply to his phone calls. She handed a nurse her letter and asked her to send it to Nick. In a few days she passed away.
A mail carrier brought the letter to Nick’s place, but he was not at home. His wife put it on the table. She thought that it was just the usual letter from a grateful patient.
“It’s time for dinner go wash your hands, Martin. What are you doing?”
“I am playing with a paper plane mom, look it crashed , it flew into the mantel.”
“Have you washed your hands the dinner is getting cold?
“Where is the letter for daddy, Martin? Have you seen it? I put it on the table.”
“I told you mom, the plane crashed and it burnt in the mantel.”