Sampler: Jenny’s Choice by Sue Joslin

A rare but disturbing book told with insight and sensitivity about one woman’s fight to finish her life on her own terms.

When the line between pain relief and euthanasia becomes blurred, who should choose?
In a fight against the system, Jenny becomes trapped in a desperate struggle against disease, prejudice and the madness of others.

Sue Joslin

Sampler: Jenny’s Choice

It took Mary half an hour to reach the gravelled path leading up to the cottage and another twenty minutes for her to find a spot in the undergrowth on a raised piece of ground above the cottege where she could watch unobserved.

There was a low stone wall in front of the cottage, neatly bordering a pretty and obviously well tended front garden. A man was sitting in the garden, leaning back against the building beside one of the windows. He was wearing a white beanie hat and a pair of sunglasses and he reached down from time to time to help himself to a drink from a brown bottle by his side. Mary was too far away to make out his features, but from his build he could well be the man she was looking for. But of the woman, there was no sign. If only she would come out into the garden, then Mary could be sure.

She waited until it was getting dark and the man went back into the cottage, but still there was no sign that there was a woman present. Trying to stay hidden from view as much as possible, Mary inched her way as close to the cottage as she dared. At last she risked a quick dash across the open field, to the side of the cottage. She lay there for a few moments, waiting for the hammering of her heart to subside so that she could hear, then she crawled round to the front of the building, trusting to luck and divine intervention that Mr T. Abbot would not take it into his head to take an early evening stroll.

A woman’s voice drifted out of the open window.

“Darling, could you please pass me that magazine? I really don’t feel able to get up at the moment.”

It was all the confirmation that Mary needed that there was an invalid hidden within the depths of the cottage.

Carefully retracing her steps, she made her way back to the village and the little petrol station, perched on its outskirts.

“Could I trouble you for a can of petrol? My car has run out and I’ve had to leave it down the road,” Mary told the old man behind the counter.

“Certainly, young lady. Will you be wanting a lift to your car as well?” he gave her a warm smile.

Mary was flustered by this and blushed bright scarlet. It was years since anyone had referred to her as a young lady.

“Err… No thank you,” she stammered, “My car is only just round the corner, it was silly of me but I really thought that I could manage the last few yards.”

“Oh, no problem, I’ll carry it round for you myself, it’ll only take me a wee minute.”

“No, really, I can manage!” Mary panicked.

The man looked a bit put out at this abrupt refusal of his kindly meant offer.

“Oh well, if you’re sure,” he shrugged.

Mary assured him that she was and a few minutes later he stood watching as she hauled the heavy can out of the garage and away into the night.

“There’s no helping some folks,” he muttered to himself and turned away to attend to a new customer.

Mary walked slowly with the full can, changing it from one hand to the other every couple of hundred yards or so, and it was dark before she got back to the cottage.

Lights were blazing brightly from the windows and a smoking chimney bore testament to the log fire, which burned merrily in the hearth.

Mary regained her original vantage point and settled down to wait, but it was well past eleven before the last light went out and darkness closed in for the night. Still Mary waited. An hour later she crept up to the cottage, and taking the lid from the petrol can, began to splash petrol on the windows and doors, neatly sealing each exit, before emptying the remaining contents through the letter box and discarding the can.

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