Tom Chapman’s Short Stories
Old Mr. Tremford and his wife had been doing the shopping together for years, and had developed their own personal habits. Thursdays were regular grocery shopping days for the week's needs. But every two months they would call at the chemist to attend to the prescriptions, and now and then Mrs. Tremford also bought some talcum powder which she particularly liked. It was a brand that she could only get at this chemist, for none of the larger outlets carried this boutique product line.
And this had been their routine for quite a long time now, but these days they moved a little slower, mainly due to Mrs. Tremford's deteriorating health.
Eventually the shopping trips proved to be too much for her to manage, and so Mr Tremford carried out the familiar round of regular shopping alone, always as quickly as he could so his wife of nearly sixty years would not be left by herself for too long.
His regular visits to the chemist continued, fulfilling the prescriptions and every now and then, another talcum powder.
"And how is Mrs. Tremford going now?" Claire, the girl behind the counter, would frequently ask.
"Oh, not too bad, just very tired these days." He was not one to complain, but just went about his business in an orderly and determined fashion. He had a touch of old-fashioned stoicism—if it had to be done, just get to and do it. And "doing it" was a labour of love for him. There was a deep rooted bond between him and his wife which a lifetime of love had built.
But came the day when he did his grocery shopping, then called at the chemist on the way home.
"Good morning, Mr. Tremford, do you need the repeats on the 'scripts today?"
"Oh, no, just the powder today, thank you Claire."
She served him without further comment, but wondered. Had they accumulated some medication, or had he come in a bit sooner than usual? She kept her thoughts to herself.
A couple more months passed and Mr. Tremford again called at the chemist on his regular route from the grocery shopping.
"Good morning Mr. Tremford, how are you going?"
"Oh. I'm managing pretty well thank you Claire, but just the powder today."
Claire had known the Tremfords for five years or so, but even so felt a little uncomfortable about further questions.
But when, two or three months later, the same little scene was played out with, "just the powder please," Claire could not hold back any longer.
"Mr. Tremford, please excuse me for asking, but the last few visits you have not renewed any of the 'scripts for Mrs. Tremford. Is everything OK?"
"Well there have been some changes at home. Mrs.Tremford passed away a few months ago. You're probably wondering about that powder. She always used it, and the scent was very particular. I could always smell it when we went out together. Now you might think this somewhat strange, but I have been using it myself whenever I go out. I can smell it again, and somehow it feels as if she is still walking beside me."
Claire choked up and could not speak. She shed a few tears, came around to the other side of the counter, and gave the old man a hug.