A Century Of Better and Worse and Worse and Worse, by Diane Arrelle

Jeanine woke.

Took a deep breath, then sighed.

Another morning and no death to greet her yet again. She turned to stare at Harvey, snoring and snuffling. Occasionally he’d grunt too and kick his legs

She sighed again, a sigh tinged with sadness, mixed with regret. No sign of death there either.

“Window clear,” she commanded and watched the darkened glass grow light and then transparent. The smog swirled against the large pane and she wondered if she’d ever get to see the sun as more than just a pale circle working its way through the pollutants.

Squinting, Jeanine tried to make out the shadow of the building next door, then closed her eyes and thought back to when she’d been a kid.  She’d moved around back then, played outside. She went to school, shopped at the mall, even snuck off to the beach with her friends to sit in the sun and get tan. They never worried about skin cancer or cataracts.  Worry was for the aged.

She nodded in silence. Life had been good once.

“Unit on,” she called and added, “News.”

An image filled the entire wall and the commentator droned.

“Global Warming, reality or hoax, to be reviewed by congress this week.”

She glanced at the small box she still insisted on calling a PC, but now it was so much more. All her precious memories were stored there along with everything else that made up her life, their life. Ninety-eight years of marriage, almost a century of being with one man, of being two instead of one.

“Inflation runs amok for the 125th year in a row, ”

She tried to stretch but her joints hurt too much. She was 118 years old and felt every one of those years.

“Hamster Flu threatens millions in underdeveloped countries.”

“It is predicted that there will be landmark 175,000 happy couples celebrating their 100th anniversary this year.” 

Jeanine grimaced and looked at Harvey. “I don’t know,” she mumbled and fingered the pillow she’d absently been hugging to her chest. “It doesn’t seem natural that just because we live longer we have to stay married for more than ninety percent of our lives.”

Harvey snorted in his sleep and rolled over to lie face up.

“Not natural at all,” she said and jammed the pillow tightly over his face.

“Homicide rate for senior citizens on the rise,” the voice continued to recite the headlines as Harvey struggled in vain.


Diane Arrelle, the pen name of South Jersey writer Dina Leacock, has been writing for more than 20 years and has sold almost 200 short stories and has two published books, Just A Drop In The Cup, a collection of short-short stories and Elements Of The Short Story, How to Write a Selling Story. She is proud to be one of the founding members as well as the second president of the Garden State Horror Writers and is also a past president of the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference. When not writing, she is a director of a municipal senior citizen center. She lives with her husband, sometimes her sons and of course her cat on the edge of the Pine Barrens in Southern New Jersey (home of the Jersey Devil). You can visit her at dinaleacock.com

Posted on October 9, 2014, in Issue 15: Elves & Spacerockets and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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