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Going

She has no way of telling him she loves him anymore. She is wrung out like the clouds sagging in this morning’s sky. Nothing left but gray space.

They had a good run, one might say. Thirty-seven years of kisses in varying degrees of wetness and Entenmanns cakes on special occasions; evenings of television with wine and a brick of sharp cheddar, half out of its plastic wrapping, sliced on a Corningware dish. Of coffee with buttered toast and sharing the Sunday morning paper. Starting the crosswords, but only ever finishing the one.

Today, he is sitting at the table in his kitchenette wearing an old jogging suit, thinned through the knees. She can see his pale skin through the fabric and wonders; this is how they let him dress?

She brushes invisible crumbs from the counter then puts her purse down. I’m going to the lake for a while; she puts the car keys into the front pocket of her purse and snaps it closed. And I’ve been thinking I might try to sell the house.

He only nods, maybe mutters an Oh, but she doesn’t hear.

I’ve asked the Murphy’s next door to look in on the cat and to water the flowers, she explains, only the two on the light post at the end of the walkway, the rest should be able to fend for themselves. She had always worried more about the delicate ones, the ones that bloom in their pots and then just dangle there, unaware. Like the world is only sunny days and it’s never going to storm.

Of course, I didn’t tell them that I was leaving you, she steps toward him. His eyes are watery like a newborn and he watches her movement with interest.

You can’t blame this all on me, she smoothes her hands over the pleats of her pants. You’re the one who said to go. Get out before it gets bad. She moves past him to the curtains behind him and pulls them wide enough to let in the sun.

You told me to let them take care of you, she says, walking to the sink. She fills a plastic cup with faucet water and pulls some Saltines down from the cabinet. Let them feed you, bathe you, remind you of who’s who in the pictures beside your bed.

She places the water and crackers on the table in front of him. Let them remind you of you. She puts her hands on her hips and looks around the kitchen. Did they take away your tea pot again?

Cracker crumbs drop from his dry lips.

She always was the one to talk. Their whole lives she was yammering on, winding stories, spilling secrets. She joked that maybe this was his way of coping with her never ending mouth. Just forget it all.

Thirty-seven years, uninterrupted. And it’s taken her only six months to run out of words to remind him that she loves him – less than that for it to seem to matter to him. Lately, he’d rather play games. Quick and simple ones like Go Fish. This reminds her of gambling with popcorn and pretzel rods with their children when they were small, which makes her smile.

He smiles too. Then he asks how many kids she has.

Still, she thinks of the triumph of finishing that crossword puzzle all those months ago, as they awaited test results. What they were able to accomplish without speaking about anything more important than how to fit letters into squares.

She leans down to brush cracker dust from his chin. And then she sits.

{Once upon a time, I wrote short stories. This is one.  I found it in some old files this morning while cleaning a backup drive.}

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Filed under: fiction, sadness

About the Author

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Writer, Photographer, Wife, Mother to four rambunctious and amazing children.

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