Everyone has a breaking point. Is this marriage based on unconditional love or an unhealthy obsession?
Susan Branch’s life revolves around the care of her charming and inscrutable husband John, a man born into wealth and prestige who lost his family’s fortune when his mysterious chronic illnesses left him bedridden. Together they live a decrepit existence beholden to the current owners of his family’s former estate.
After years of devoting herself to John’s care, Susan is worn out and frustrated. Yet she is determined to scrape together whatever resources she can to keep John comfortable and happy. This includes stealing Demerol from the doctor’s office where she works to feed John’s ever-increasing need for pain medication.
As John’s condition continues to puzzle doctors, Susan begins to notice strange objects appearing around her house. Ever wary of creepy Old Pete, the groundskeeper, Susan decides to confront the elderly man and put an end to his snooping for good.
John suffers a critical emergency, but he is saved and is soon released from the hospital. As his health begins to improve, Susan dreams of a normal life, but her hope for a miracle transforms into a nightmare one fateful afternoon when she discovers the true cause of John’s sickness.
It didn’t take me long to read Sick, as it is a novella, and I always find short stories hard to review as it’s so hard to do so without giving too much away, but I’ll do my best.
John is sick, very sick. His wife Susan has been caring for him for years. His chronic illnesses have meant that most of her time has to be devoted to taking care of him and she struggles to hold down a job and keep on top of the ever increasing medical bills. Is this really her life, her marriage? In sickness and in health and all that, but she is becoming increasingly frustrated. So much so that she risks her job, and more, by stealing medication from work, to pacify John. However, things just go from bad to worse.
When she starts finding odd objects around their house she thinks the creepy grounds keeper is responsible. She is totally not prepared for the truth!
Sick packs an awful lot into it’s relatively few pages. A lot of emotion, mainly stress and anxiety on Susan’s part in particular. It’s a difficult subject matter, but I feel it is very well written with a shocking conclusion.
Thanks to Christa Wojciechowski for my review copy.
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