The angel by Terry Cummings

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I laughed involuntarily and coughed some of the sweet tasting slime back into the glass. I glanced around but nobody seemed to have noticed. I whispered an apology to Anthony with my hand still on my mouth. He had a wide smile on his face.
"What was that"? He asked, offering me a napkin.
"Its just that you said something which my ex husband used to say a lot, it just kind of took me by surprise, sorry."
"Hey, its OK, really, I thought it was kind of cute."
"He used to say that as well." I replied, taking the napkin and dabbing away some of the liquid from my lips and chin. I suddenly felt very self conscious.
He smiled at me, watching me wiping away the drink and presently my embarrassed smile. I had remembered what I had come here for and it brought the winter chill from outside back into my heart.
"Hey, why the long face?" He asked.
I pulled my handbag from the edge of the chair where I had hung it and pushed a jumble of contents aside to find my purse. I pulled it from the bag and it sat bulging on the table between us, its small metal clasp threatening to burst open at any moment. Thomas had bought the purse for me, it is one of the few items I still possess which reminds me of him.
"I want you to take this." I said, looking into Anthony's face, avoiding his eyes. "I need you to find someone who will end my life, I haven't the strength or the courage to do it myself."
I waited for his response. I had run through all his possible objections in my head on the way to the bar and had come up with answers to them all. I had a myriad of reasons for doing this and my worst regret for this moment was in wondering which of the reasons I would have to tell this stranger to make him accept my request.
Instead, he smiled, put his hand over the purse and slid it across the table towards him and placed it into his pocket. He stood up and walked to the bar. He returned with a beer for himself and a glass of tomato juice for me. The drink was on old favourite and would take the sweet taste of the snowball away from my mouth. We talked whilst he finished one cigarette and consumed his beer and for a brief period I was no longer alone, I was the person I was thirteen years ago when I had a family, friends, a husband, a life.
And then the moment was gone. His beer consumed and cigarette stub extinguished in the ashtray, he stood up and put on his overcoat. I sat, cradling the remainder of my tomato juice in my hands. I didn't want him to leave but could think of no reasons for him to stay. I looked into my drink and the wisp of smoke from the ashtray as he bent down to kiss my cheek.
And then he was gone.

The next morning, I woke feeling tired. I would not be going to work today. Today, was mine and mine alone. I had lain awake most of the night considering the consequences of what I had done the night before and wondering what this, my last day, should entail. I had considered going to the cinema, a theatre, the library, swimming baths an opera house or circus. But all of this had seemed an echo of another, happier life, one which I would not like to revisit alone.

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