The Picture
By Gerry.
Published: September 26, 2010
Updated: September 26, 2010


Ruth Pointer was in the doctor’s waiting room awaiting her turn to be called. Normally she would have been irritated by the noisy children and sniffling adults, but it was clear from her appearance that her thoughts were elsewhere. The sign lit up for the next patient at the same time as the receptionist called her name.

‘Ah, Ruth, do come in and sit down, how are you feeling?’ It was just a week since Walter, Ruth’s husband, had been cremated, and Doctor Scott was quite concerned about her. ‘Have you managed to settle down a little with the tablets I gave you?’

Dr Scott had known the Pointers for many years. He had been at their recent Golden wedding celebrations, and had dealt with the subsequent illness and death of Walter; he was just like one of the family to Ruth. Walter’s death had been sudden and unexpected: he had suffered a massive heart attack whilst out on a stroll. Not a bad way to go for Walter even though he was only seventy seven, but a devastating blow to Ruth. There was no family to fall back on, they had not had children, and Ruth had no brothers or sisters. Walter had a brother apparently; his only relative, but she had never met him. Walter would not discuss him, only to say he was no good and that she was better off not knowing him. She had never pushed the point.

Although reluctant to have any contact with his brother, Walter unknown to Ruth had answered his brother’s call for financial help from time to time, but this was the end. When Ruth read Walter’s will, apart from a few sizeable donations to his animal charities which Ruth was well aware of, the total estate was left to Ruth, but of course she knew the contents of the will long before Walter had died.

‘Well Doctor’ (Ruth always called him doctor when he was on duty, but off duty he was just plain James) ‘I have something amazing to tell you: Walter has been back’.

‘Ruth, what did I tell you last week, I told you he would never be far away and always be looking out for you--that’s how it is, so I can fully understand you thinking he has come back, he will always be near.’

‘No doctor, you don’t understand. He has been back, and he has been talking to me.’

‘Ruth, people don’t come back when they die, we just feel the presence. That doesn’t mean they are not waiting for us. You must have dreamed it--that is quite common at first.’

‘Doctor, he has been back. I didn’t think you would believe me so I took this picture.’

Ruth handed Dr Scott a photo: without doubt it was a picture of Walter. Dr Scott had to be careful how he handled this, he was no Psychiatrist and realised he could be soon out of his depth. He made an excuse to leave Ruth for a couple of minutes and went into the next room to have a word with a colleague.

‘How would you handle this, David? I have Ruth Pointer next door. She claims Walter has been back to see her and has even brought an old photo of him. How the hell do I deal with it?’ He handed the photo to his colleague.

David, (Dr Simpson) looked at the picture and started shaking his head.
‘I don’t really know, old-man, but I do know you need to tread carefully; bloody hell, James! Have you seen this?’ There was an air of shock and alarm in David’s question.

‘Seen what?’

‘Look at the bloody time and date--Ruth obviously took this picture with a digital camera.’

James took the picture back and looked more closely in the bottom corner.

The small read out clearly said 17-30, the date 15-08-10. Walter was cremated four days earlier on the eleventh...