The Scythe

Carol had been profoundly shocked at my suicide attempt, and good old ‘Bill’ had been relegated to the past as soon as the size of his debts and the target of his ambitions had fully emerged. He had been “very keen” on providing my wife with a third child, but initially failed to mention the vasectomy he had received five years earlier – an oversight which cast many of my own failings into a more amenable light. She had certainly advanced as far down the road of infidelity as my tortured dreams had indicated, but my own chequered past clearly made this forgivable, and for a while the dropped jigsaw was back on the table. She disapproved of C——- Village, however, and her letters were becoming less frequent.
I jerked around to a piercing voice.
“Some health service managers have received pay rises of up to 30%, raising suspicions that money is being taken away from basic care to fund ‘fat cat’ salaries….The number of people saying they’re too stressed to work is rocketing…but many of them are just so bored they want a rest from work. Some Doctors dispense sick notes on demand…The compensation culture has made them very careful… but if malingerers were dismissed, there could be millions available to help the bankrupt N.H.S…… “

I leaned over, switched off the radio, and went out to work. It was late summer and hot, the harvest had started, and my lean brown body ached enjoyably as I greeted the others and we walked down the dusty path, towards the farm. A row of rooks watched us from the bough of an ancient oak tree, and wreathes of wild flowers covered the nearby hills, while behind us trudged the oldest resident in the village, with his incongruous blunt scythe.


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