Jack lay in his bed looking out at the city. Or to be more correct over it. His bedroom looked out over the London Skyline. He knew it wouldn’t be long now. He stroked his faithful collie, Jess, who was lying beside him. Her frail body was cool against his leg. He whispered to her as he stroked her downy fur, messages of undying love.
He looked from one window to another and remarked to himself how much the skyline had changed. Back in his day there were few high-rise buildings and London looked so different. He’d grown up on a street in the East End. The house had been his parent’s before and their parents before that. His mum had told him enough times that he was lucky to have indoor facilities as she preferred to call them. The house hadn’t always been that luxurious.
His mind started to slowly spool through those old memories: playing football on the streets, learning how to smoke behind the bus stop at the end of the street; and his first foray into the sexual arena with Molly, a much older girl who taught him so much.
He’d moved into the twentieth floor when he had married Vera, early in his twenties. They’d had an amazing life together. They made a conscious decision not to have children, neither of them truly caring for little people, which was seen as strange by many as Jack had worked as a teacher for much of his life. They had always preferred children they could hand back and retreat back into their lives.
He had loved Vera with his whole being. Their wedding had been the event of the year, carefully planned by Vera as a showstopper. When she had died suddenly just five years earlier from that dreaded killer he had given up. No one really noticed that much. He could still smile in the street and talk on the phone when friends called without rousing doubts about his instability. To all intents and purposes he had carried on despite his reduced circumstances, but escaping to be with Vera was never that far from his mind. His family remained comfortably unaware of his situation, and the previously regular visits tailed off to nothing. Jack understood.
For a moment his mind was lucidly back in the present, stopping the spooling of the film that was unfolding. He looked through the window again at the changed skyline and all the new-fangled buildings, as he thought of them, and their new-fangled and frankly stupid names. Back in his time buildings had been named after the worthy and famous. No one in his day would have called a building the Gherkin or the Cheese-grater. St Paul’s was still over there in the distance and somewhere over the other side were the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. They were buildings to be proud of.
His mind had had enough of the dire present and returned him to his memories. He was feeling a little fuzzy now. He pulled Jess closer, knocking some of the pill packets on the floor, where they joined the broken glass. In his mind he was at a casino in Las Vegas; bright lights, Vera laughing as she won on the slots. Then they were driving down a French avenue, trees flashing by in his peripheral vision. laughter on the wind.
All a sudden his mind drew him up short as he witnessed Vera’s passing once again, much as he had so many times over the past five years. This time, though, she sat up and held her hands out to him. He slipped onto the bed beside her and into her waiting embrace as his body back in his sad flat breathed its last. Another minute change to the skyline.
Jack wasn’t found until three days later when one of his friends raised the alarm after not getting any replies to her calls or texts. The Police had broken in and on finding his body and the note propped up on the bedside table had contacted his sister. They told her he had been dead three days when they had entered the flat, that he had taken his own life and was found in bed his hand deep in his dog’s long fur. The dog had died at least a day before him. According to the note that was the final straw.
Standing before the large plate window his sister read the note again. As she looked out over the unfamiliar skyline she cried gently wondering how things had got to where they were.