‘Eloise has died,’ says the Co-ordinator, putting the phone down. ‘The morning carer found her.’
‘Get me her file, would you?’
I know what she’s thinking. We’ve had plenty of involvement with Eloise over the past few weeks. It’d be as well to have a look through the notes to make sure everything was in order, just in case it went to Coroner’s. There’s not much chance of that, though. It’s not exactly unexpected. Eloise had a multitude of health problems, decrepit old age being the least of it. Bed bound, doubly incontinent – mentally intact, though, when she wasn’t in the throes of another UTI.
The news travels round the office.
The last time I saw Eloise was just three days ago. I’d gone round in the evening to do a set of obs, check she was settled and had everything she needed to hand. She was propped up in the living room of the house she’d lived in since the forties, the room now re-arranged to accommodate a hospital bed, padded around with cushions and pillows, a remote control on the duvet, drinks and snacks on the over-bed table, staring at the television screen at the bottom of the bed. It was playing some property programme at top volume so she could hear it.
A woman in a pink coat talking to two guys in a dilapidated house.
‘So what do you think, Chris? Phil? Are you up for this?’
‘We’re always up for it.’
They all laugh.
The woman in the pink coat rubs her hands.
‘Well let’s get cracking!’
Cut to montage of Chris and Phil in t-shirts and masks throwing old plaster into a skip. Drilling and hammering. Background music: Hi Ho Hi Ho it’s off to work we go…
Closing shot: Chiris and Phil standing in the garden with the masks up on the tops of their heads. Chris slaps Phil on the back. Cloud of dust. Laughter.
Cut to: slinky mood music. Shimmery dissolve to how the house looks now. Laminate flooring, modern radiators, fancy mirrors &c.
The woman in pink describing the new look house: ‘Chris and Phil have gone for a sleek, modern feel, economical, but still with those all important homey touches. The kitchen opens out through double doors onto a patio area just perfect for barbecues….’
Eloise jabs the TV off.
‘What do you want?’ she says.
‘Sorry to bother you, Eloise, but I’ve just come round to see you’re okay and you have everything you need.’
‘How are you feeling?’
‘How am I feeling?’
She stares at the blank screen and strokes the remote control. I half expect it to come on again. For Chris and Phil and the woman in pink to be standing there in a line, looking out at us. But the screen stays blank.
‘Who are you?’ she says.