The soft music played over the intercom in the minimarket.
It was a classic piece from yesteryear, the kind of music that made you sway gently and put you in the mood to dance.
He came in alone, wearing a worn cardigan, frayed shirt, shiny trousers and carpet slippers.
‘Hello Jack,’ said the guy behind the counter. ‘What do you need today?’
The man stared vacantly as if in a trance, not knowing where he was, how he’d got there or what he was there for.
A customer came up to him and held out her arms.
‘Shall we dance?’ she asked.
Jack slid easily into her embrace, taking her hand in his and laying a wrinkled one in the small of her back. Together they waltzed down the aisles.
The ballad continued for over three minutes, and Jack didn’t miss a step or a single beat.
The couple glided between the freezers, tinned stuff, packets and fresh veg without a care or thought in the world, lost in the presence of the music.
Nobody moved, they simply watched and understood.
When it had finished, Jack bowed slightly and his partner curtsied.
‘Come on Grandad,’ she said gently. ‘Let’s get you home.’
Abby was with him when he died 2 days later.
His last words were
‘Shall we dance?’
and as she took his hand in hers at his bedside, he slipped peacefully away.