A Story by Peter Rogerson

I'm recovering from a nasty cgest infection, and this little fable crossed my mind...


When Jephson Snakey caught the kind of cough that racked his body day and night he decided, quite illogically, that it was time for him to pray.

It was illogical because he had no idea who he should pray to, and when deep thought got in the way of a couple of really nasty coughing bouts he asked himself what he expected of a prayer anyway.

The actual truth,” he murmured to his good and very patient lady wife, Lydia of a smiling face and warm heart, “is if I die I want something interesting to happen.”

Like what?” she asked.

Well, lines of ladies in tiny frocks parading like goddesses in front of me,” he replied, which idea stung her heart to the quick and made her think that maybe it would be a good idea if he did die and find there were no lines of tempting nymphets in any version of the afterlife she’d read about.

You mean, I’m not good enough?” she demanded, “you coughing like that, hack, hack, hack and me patiently rubbing your chest with liniment trying to save your life, and not good enough?”

He thought about that for a moment. Once upon a time, in her own tiny frock days, she’d been a right little tempter and he’d loved her with the sort of devotion he’d inherited from the evolution of his gender in their search for providing endless tomorrows for the human race to nurture. But the tiny frock days had slowly become adorned with severe skirts, and the deep fascination that had held him in thrall had slowly melted away.

Of course you are,” he lied.

Then we’ll have fewer dreams of lines of nymphets in nearly nothing and more of getting better,” she advised. “And you ought to see the doctor,” she concluded.

There’s nothing wrong with a dream,” he grumbled, “especially if it warms a freezing heart and gives a man something to live for.

Something to die for you mean,” she pointed out, “I was talking about the Afterlife which you seemed to yearn for after you’ve said your rather silly prayers.”

Everyone’s young and vibrant and skimpy in my version of whatever you want to call it, the Afterlife, Heaven, Nirvana...” he coughed, and the cough became deeper, racked his whole body as a vision of cloudy fields and equally cloudy hills with cloudy little streams trickling between them in cloudy perfection filled his mind, and he coughed quite a lot more.

Well, you won’t be young again,” she grumbled at him, “there’s no chance of all the dissolute decades of laziness melting away and leaving you like the handsome young creature that you were, all lithe and strong when we met in the beginning, and with….” She was going to make a complimentary comment about his more private parts but realised that even back then it would have sounded ridiculous. “… with a hairless chest,” she concluded instead.

But he coughed on and a preferred mental image of himself, all rippling muscles and perfect in every dimension passed through his mind. Even the imaginary face was not really him but that of a super-being with all the best attributes of comic book heroes that he was fond of.

In fact, I think you’re gay,” she continued, “the way you hero-worship Batman and Superman and all the other moronic shadows of imagined people that parade themselves in the realism of your mind!”

He wasn’t going to put up with that and flailed an arm to strike her, but the coughing fit, the pain in his chest, the whole miserable experience of an illness that was melting him away stopped him and he merely rather pathetically waved a feeble arm vaguely towards her.

I had my times,” he muttered when he had a smidgen of breath with which to speak.”

I loved you then,” she said, admitting a truth that was half forgotten in her mind, “I would have done anything for you back then. Now stop coughing and calm down!”

He tried to, but couldn’t. There was something so irritating throughout his lungs that all he really needed to do was cough. And once again he found himself confronted by a line of perfect young mini-frocked beauties that he closed his eyes in order to see them all the better. Such legs! Such shapely waists! Such rising, almost pulsating bosoms, such hair, long and perfect and fragrant as a garden full of flowers.

He sighed. That would be his Afterlife, and he prayed. Like that. Words formed in his mind and tried to tumble out of his mouth mid-cough. “Dear Lord,” he prayed, “for Heaven’s sake ease my pain and take me to where I can dream in peace...”

And it may have been his Lord or it may have been Lydia, or possible it might have been Mother Nature herself, but in that ecstatic instant his prayer was answered.

His heart ceased its toil He stopped mid-cough and sank quite unintentionally to the floor. His angel of a wife looked on helplessly, then leaped onto his and tried to pummel his chest like they do on television in medical dramas.

But all to no avail. His prayer had been answered.

And suddenly he found himself standing on a grey and sterile beach a mile from distant crashing waves which retreated even further as he saw them out of the corner of an unseeing eye.

And there, in front of him, dressed in that lovely mini-dress she’d once worn, stood Lydia, as perfect as she’d ever been, legs, waistline, bosom hair cascading from a beautiful head. He didn’t want a whole line of nymphets. This one would do!

So you made it too,” he said, no longer feeling the urge to cough.

What me?” she replied, that old familiar wonderful voice, “who in Paradise are you, old, old, old man?”

And she walked away, wiggling her hips and making the tiny skirt of that frock sway in time to the far distant seas.

And he was left there to slowly decompose like all good bodies do.

© Peter Rogerson 07.06.20

© 2020 Peter Rogerson

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Added on June 7, 2020
Last Updated on June 7, 2020
Tags: vough, infection, prayer wife


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 76 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..