Johnny’s on the golf course, having the game of his life. 18th hole and the boys from legal are so far behind that they’ll be pouting til Christmas. He stares into the sun, adjusts his visor and put himself in a stance that he’s sure will bring him a winning swing. He giggles delightedly to himself, excited to celebrate with drinks at the club and then maybe grab the jet and take Moira to California for the weekend and soak up the UVs.
He pulls back -
“Wuh,” Johnny snaps awake with a startling gasp. Moira’s shaking his shoulder violently, fingernails biting into the muscle like talons. The golf course slips away and he springs into the sitting position.
“John…” Moira groans, resting against the headboard with her free hand pressed dramatically to her forehead. She sighs weakly, skin pale and eyes fluttering, hair sticking around her face.
“What is it, sweetheart?” Johnny asks, voice quivering with concern as Moira takes a crackling breath.
“John, it’s happening. The time has come. That cruel and bothersome mistress of death has set herself upon my chest…” she stops to cough, raspy and long. John looks at her with confusion as his pre-coffee brain tries desperately to translate. Moira huffs and rolls her eyes. “I’m dying, John!” she calls.
Johnny presses the back of his hand to his wife’s forehead. It’s damp and warm, verging on sticky. He grimaces.
“Oh no, I think you’re sick, Moira. I think you have the flu.”
She laughs dryly.
“Don’t be so rudimentary, John. It’s obviously Dengue fever. You don’t need to spare me. I’ve broken bad news to many a hopeful face, I can take it. I once played a nurse on—”
“Mash, I know,” Johnny interrupts softly. “I don’t think it’s Dengue, Moira, you haven’t been to any slums recently.”
“Look around, John!” she barks, gesturing weakly around the room. “A São Paulo shack would be riddled with less immune suppressing parasites than the stains I’ve seen in this hovel.”
Johnny feigns a comforting smile and pushes himself out of bed. The light that slips in through the gap in the curtains is bright and he can hear the kids shuffling around in their room - it’s definitely morning.
“I’m sure it’s just the flu, Moira. Nothing to worry about. A few days bed rest and you’ll be back in your heels in no time,” he says cheerily. Moira simply groans and rolls her eyes.
“Get out of the bathroom David!”
“There’s no point! That will always be your face, now get out!”
“Hey, Alexis. Go find and short pier and-”
Bang, bang, bang…
“Mom! Dad! Tell David to get out of the bathroom, I’m going to be late!”
Moira sinks down further into the bed, taking Johnny’s abandoned pillow and pressing it to her face. She screams.
“Just press down, John, and give me a dignified death.”
“There’s no need to be dramatic, Moira, it’s just the flu,” Johnny says calmly as he pulls open the parting door to a disgruntled Alexis.
“Ugh!” She storms into the room in a summer dress and slippers. “Your first born is hogging the bathroom because he can’t accept that his best years are behind him.”
“Alexis, calm down, your mother isn’t feeling well.”
Alexis jumps back, wrists limp, and stares wide eyed at her mother’s slumped figure.
“Oh my god, is she contagious? Ew. That’s the last thing I need.”
Johnny sighs. “She isn’t contagious, it’s just the flu. She’ll be fine.”
“Alexis...Alexis, is that you?” Moira calls, lowering the pillow from her face to grope blindly at the air. “Come closer, dear, I need to impart my wisdom to the next generation of Rose women before death realises she’s left me behind and returns to drag me to the dark abyss of an unsatisfactory afterlife.”
Alexis steps back and leans forward, stroking her cuticles as she grimaces. “Uhm, I’d love to, but I’m late. Can you send me an email?”
“Alexis,” Johnny groans. “How about a little sympathy? Your mother did look after you when you were sick,” he points out.
Alexis flips her hair. “Ugh, fine!” and steps tentatively closer and closer to the bed. She reaches out slowly and sets a careful hand on her mother’s brow. “Oh, wow, that’s moist,” she mutters before forcing a strangled smile. “There, there, you’ll be better soon,” she says softly.
Moira blinks, sighs and then stares up at her daughter. “Alexis, am I delirious or are you wearing costume jewellery? Have we really sunk so low?”
“Ugh! Ted gave me this necklace!” Alexis snaps.
“Did he win it?”
“It’s from a catalogue, ok — Ugh!” Alexis turns and marches back to the door. “She’ll be fine,” she says to her father before disappearing into the now empty bathroom, sneering at David when she passes.
“What’s going on in here at such a volume?” David says, sauntering in and dressed like he’s ready to attend a funeral.
“Your mother isn’t well, but she’ll be fine,” Johnny assures the room, sighing when David hisses and steps back, covering his mouth with the sleeve of his sweater.
“Is she contagious? I can’t get sick, me and Patrick are sampling wedding cakes this weekend.”
Moira wails and slumps onto her side. “Oh, David. I’m sorry I won’t be around to watch this important chapter in the book on tape of your life. I’ll try and cling onto my senses for the wedding, but I can’t make any promises.”
David’s mouth twists. “Uhm, we’re actually having some trouble keeping the guest list down at the moment, so don’t feel pressured to stick around. If it’s your time then-”
“David, you’re not helping!” Johnny interjects as David bites on a smirk.
“What? I have things to do today.”
Johnny ushers David back through the door. “Then stop being a jackass and go do them,” Johnny demands in the harshest voice he can muster - but David still laughs as he goes.
“Rude!” he calls as Johnny slams the door closed.
From the bed, Moira groans. “Is it too much to ask to die in peace?”
With his back pressed to the door, Johnny sighs and takes in a deep breath.
It’s going to be a long day today.