Wife After Death

May 1, 2008
By Elan Kiderman, New Rochelle, NY

Life will go on.

The mug makes scalene triangles on my napkin.

“Hello?” The telephone rang. I did not hear it, but I remember a ring. Piercing, radiant ring.

“Hello?” Nobody is there, for I have shut the phone, five yards away. She tries all the greetings she had memorized, hangs up and hangs over. My hands quiver underneath the table, one leg too short. She breathes automatically.

“Hello?” Nobody again. The checkers on her blouse are uncluttered as they protect her hair from caustic skin, black and white like herself and I feign obliviousness. Her clock ticks and tocks perfectly, and I sip my coffee as I avoid mine, revolving them both in my hand.

“Hello?” The ring grows loud, hurriedly. She overdoses on patience while I struggle to recall my plan. Point. Shoot. The triangles darken, first at me, then at the clockwork as I peer at my fingers to see what they are doing. One confronts a trigger, the other suspended above her ear. Nobody is inflamed, yet she persists with sadistic tranquility. I hit the buttons once more, waiting. Anything. “Hello” is nothing.

“Hello?” We point. The paint is flaking, last year’s flood; it cries black and white checkers, and it will cry tomorrow. The bench outside I used to sit on juts nails and woodchips giving me blisters as I try to disregard them. We shoot––across the phone’s receiver and her heart and she will jump but they don’t, because she watches to see that the fire is placated. Everything is placated except Nobody and I, who shut the phone and the revolver, infuriated.

“ANSWER ME!” My insides yell at her. She continues to fiddle mechanically. The triangles are circles now. I reach into gravity and unfasten retribution. “HEAR ME!” She doesn’t, her ears congested with reticence, yearning for the day they forget deafness. “LOOK AT ME!” She looks only at her reflection in glaring clocks that even stop rhythmically. Even. I shake her violently but she is already dead.

My hands are empty, meaningless and by the phone only Nobody and four missed calls from me. I do not remember when the stove was lit and yet the ashes of my dignity are still ablaze. Remembering what no one has forgotten is always more heartbreaking than forgetting what no one has remembered.

The obituary lies with her tombstone, fourteen miles from home. “Linda Bonner” is all it reads. She fell asleep at the wheel. I was told of headlights and horns. See no evil; hear no evil, a year before I filled the mug. I often forget. If she had answered then, she would have answered now.

I return to my bedroom, on my bed the six bullets from the revolver that I forgot to load.

Under my coffee cup spears that itch my sanity.

Story of my life.

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