812. Annus horribilis
© Bruce Goodman 31 December 2015

(The fabric on my piano stool cushion is embroidered with Latin quotations. At last I’ve got around to investigating them! Nothing to do with music… but they serve as a starter for today’s story!)

It hadn’t been a good year for Ruth. It had been her annus horribilis, from beginning to end. It had been one disaster after another; a capite ad calcem. Or it could have been a pedibus usque ad caput, depending on how one looked at it. Or to put it in a more literary way, ab ovo usque ad mala as Horace said, which would mean from soup to nuts instead of from the egg to the apples if Horace had been writing in English.

Anyway, it was now New Year’s Eve. Ruth reflected on the past year’s events. Who would’ve thought that having a husband and two sons could create such a horrid year?

In March, her son and daughter-in-law, Joel and Eliose, had split up, leaving her two granddaughters, Angeline and Cassie, all mixed up. She could still hear the phone ring in her head. She’d just gone to bed – it was 11 o’clock – and Joel phoned to say he was kicked out of his house and could he come around and stay the night?

Her husband had passed away suddenly in the merry month of May. He was just getting ready for bed, an hour before midnight, when he took a sudden turn. She phoned for the ambulance but he’d already died by the time it arrived.

Then in late July she herself was diagnosed with bowel cancer. It was weeks of chemotherapy, and then weeks of radiation, followed by an actual operation. The specialist thought she would make a full recovery.

What a year! Thank goodness there was Nico, her other son, at least one member of the family, whose year had gone well enough. He had found a new job, and he and his wife, Brianna, had had a wee daughter.

It was eleven o’clock! One hour to go! Ruth poured herself a little wine.

“Here’s to a brighter New Year! Memores acti prudentes future!” said Ruth. "A toast to the future!"

The phone went.

Contact Author
Back to Story Listings
Next Story
Previous Story