Author : Philip Berry

. Elizabeth, good morning. I have laid out your favourite summer dress

Is it warm out then?

. Warmish. 17 degrees

Not enough. Get me my blue trousers will you. I feel the cold too easily nowadays.

. No. The dress will do

Err… Sarah, please don’t make me ask twice. Why are you so insistent?

. Because today is a special day

How so?

. It will become clear

Is it my birthday? I haven’t recognised the day since I was 160… is it?

. It is not

Is someone coming to visit?

. Alas no

I know. I get to take off the field-brace. How long has it been now?

. Three months. But the spinal bones are not yet healed. The surgeon reviewed the latest scan two days. There is a report on the home-frame

I don’t recall having a scan

. I did it while you slept

Can you bring breakfast please? Juice. Cereal. That’s all.

. Not today Elizabeth

Why not?!

. Elizabeth… it is not your birthday today, but it is a landmark of sorts. You are 185 now, and you have not left the house for three months, since the fall


. Three years ago, during a conversation with Amy Taylor – may she rest in peace – you said that should you reach this age and not be able to look after yourself, you would rather not continue

You heard that?

. Of course, I hear and record everything in this house. I am recording now.

It doesn’t matter anyway. Sarah, is the heating on?

. It is

Well turn it down please.

. Later, Elizabeth. Now, your conversation. I was reminded of it after your fall. You have, clearly, depended on me since that time. The field-brace may be invisible, but it has severely restricted you

Well it will be off soon.

. Another 6 weeks unfortunately, according to the surgeon

Please bring a glass of juice. I am very thirsty. The heating must have been on all night, I’m sweating.

. It came on at midnight. That was the beginning of your special day

What special day? What are you on about?

. Your final day.

Final day of what?

. Life, Elizabeth. Your long and excellent life

… 25 seconds …

Sarah, listen to me. I want you to send in that drink, NOW!

. Elizabeth, three months ago you adjusted my settings through the home-frame. You gave me maximum autonomy. Previously, when you reached 170, you granted me maximum anticipatory latitude. I have developed the ability since then to understand your needs and predict your desires. I can read your moods through your actions, expressions and words. I know that you are tired of this excellent life. I am now able to achieve, for you, your unspoken desire. You wish to end this. Gradual dehydration is the gentlest way. Please relax. Sleep if you wish. I will turn on the radio, your favourite programme is on soon. Shall I turn the heating up for you?