The pie-maker was eighty-four years, thirty-six weeks, four days, and sixteen minutes old when in the midst of peeling a granny smith apple for his latest pie; a sudden heart attack befell him. His wife of over forty-three years, a still quite spry Mrs. Charlotte Charles (as she'd opted to keep her own last name), better known as Chuck, and slightly better known as the little-old-lady who co-owned the Pie-hole, wasted no time and immediately called him an ambulance.
Upon arrival at the Hospital, the not-so-young Ned was rushing into the Emergency Room, and away from the protective gaze of women he loved. The little-old-lady named Chuck paced uncomfortably in the waiting room, occasionally harassing a nurse as politely as she could for news, but mostly just running her fingers through her grey hair. In her mind, when Ned was released later, she'd like to look her best for him.
Several painfully long hours later, a surgeon exited the E.R with a disgruntled look on his face. The man sighed as he approached the tense older woman.
"He's alive, Mrs. Charles." Chucks eyes lit up. "But the thing is..."
The facts were these.
After a life time of non to healthy eating habits and at times excessive sweets consumption, Ned had suffered a large myocardial infraction. In retrospect, something that he really should have come to expected considering his lack of healthy food consumption and age. While his heart had twice stopped during the course of his trip to the hospital, the sound of the love of his life's voice shouting his name-coupled with the skill of two paramedics- kept him alive.
His heart had a third time stopped in the E.R and despite it being restarted again, the damage had already been done. Ned was in heart failure, and not long for this world.
"I need to see him." Chuck insisted to the surgeon. This was more of a threat than a question.
Ned was conscious when his wife entered his room. The little-old-lady named Chuck was wearing the brightest dress in her wardrobe, which she'd had the now retired Emerson Cod deliver to the hospital as fast as he could. Emerson wheeled himself in behind her, his face set in his usual mask of angry disinterest meant today to hide his sadness.
"Hey, guys." Ned said weakly from his bed.
"Hey, Ned." Chuck said, sitting herself down in the chair at his bedside. Emerson mumbled something under his breath. Chuck elbowed him gently.
"Yeah, hey, Ned." He growled.
"Glad you could come." There was a little smile on Ned's lips.
"Mm, not like I was halfway across the country or anything-" Chuck elbowed him again.
"How do you feel?"
"Oh, you know...dying." He said with a shrug.
"Yeah, I kinda noticed."
"Yup, the old ticker went and stopped on me."
Chuck bit her lip as she smiled, trying to hold back her tears. "Could you hold Ned's hand for me?" She said to Emerson.
"Hell no, I'm not holding his hand!"
"Uhuh, no, no way, not happening." Emerson shook his head.
"Chuck, it's fine don't worry." Ned said.
"Ain't doing it."
"Come on, Emerson."
"Really guys you don't need to..."
"-He's dying, come one-"
"Fine!" Emerson's voice caught in his throat. He reached out a wrinkled hand and placed it on Ned's.
"Oh, wow, okay then..."
Chuck smiled with satisfaction. "There, that wasn't so bad was it?"
Emerson made an awkward sound. "Your hands are really soft."
"Could I get a minute with, Chuck?"
"Sure, whatever, I don't wanna be here anyway." Emerson lied. He sniffed as he pulled his hand off of the pie-makers. As he rolled away in his wheelchair, Ned and Chuck both heard the sound of a small sad squeak escape from him.
"So..." Ned said when they were finally alone.
"...I'm still dying."
Chuck jumped out of her seat, her knees cracking slightly. Several hours of pacing had done nothing good for her arthritis. She took a few steps closer to Ned, and leaned in so that she was face to face with her husband.
"Whoa, Chuck, be careful!" Ned pressed himself down into the hospital bed. Chuck smiled sadly at him and shook her head.
"Nope, can't do that." Chuck moved in closer until Ned could feel the soft heat radiating from her body.
"Chuck, Chuck!" Ned maneuvered himself awkwardly away through the tangle of wires and breathing apparatuses. The simple action used all of strength and left him gasping for breath.
"Ned, please, I'm trying to kiss you."
"I know what you're trying to do, and it's not okay."
Chuck pulled herself onto the hospital bed so that she was straddling him carefully, the blanket the only thing now separating them. Her hips squeaked in protest at the sudden movements. "I'm eighty-three, Ned. I'm eighty-three and I've only ever kissed my husband once."
"W-well, that doesn't mean you won't want to kiss someone else when I'm gone!" Chuck stuck her tongue out at the thought.
"You never know! You're pretty hot." Ned's eyebrows were furrowed in distress. Chuck had always loved that face.
"Not gonna happen."
"You'd make a great cougar! Really!" Ned's voice was pleading.
"If it hadn't been for you I'd have been dead thirty-six years ago." Ned opened his mouth and then closed it again, unsure what to say. "Just one more time, I want to kiss you."
"But-I..." Ned began. "I don't want to kill you..." The pie-maker knew that one touch, one tiny ounce of the skin contact they had for forty years avoiding were to happen, the little-old-lady named Chuck would be no more.
"Well I don't want to live without you." Chuck said. Tears ran unchecked down her checks, but her voice was calm and sure.
"Are you-are you sure about this?" Ned asked, his eyes locked on his wife's lips. Despite the decades that had passed, Chuck's lips remained as soft and full as they'd ever been. The low blood flow in Ned's body did not stop it from rising to his face and turning him a deep red. Her body was much too close for Ned to be comfortable when neither of them had a roll of plastic wrap. No matter how many years had passed, Chuck could always make butterflies appear in his stomach.
"Yes." Chuck said, leaning in. Her hair slid away from her head, tickling its way across Ned's face.
Ned swallowed nervously and then nodded. "One last kiss then?"
Chuck smiled; she was now so close that Ned could count the tears hanging from her eyelashes. "Make it count."