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Bernie and Circe MAG
“How's Circe?” I ask, a question like a landmine, but it never goes off.
“We're fine. Have you seen those uniforms? They never would have worn them like that when I was in the army.” He points to the soldiers on the news.
“How were they different?”
Bernie waves a hand in the air, a careless gesture that betrays how graceful he must have been back then.
“Better,” he says. “More formal, more pristine. They were real uniforms, not this deer-hunting get-up.”
“Is that so?” I wonder until I remember why I came.
“Bernie,” I say, as softly as I can, “have you seen Circe lately?”
“Of course, silly, she's my wife. You know Circe is a goddess?”
“I'm sure she was wonderful.” I whisper, but he snorts.
“Not my wife, you kook, the Greek nymph. She was lovely, and terrible. Some people say she was the daughter of Hectate, full of mischief and mystery. Now that was like my Circe. Reminds me a bit of you too, sweetheart.”
I roll my eyes. “I'm not mysterious, Bernie.”
“Sure you are. You remind me of a summer day ….” Then his eyes go foggy like they sometimes do and I get up real fast. Jab the red button.
Nurse Maggie arrives out of breath, and I don't know if it has been seconds or hours.
“Ah,” she sighs, seeing my face, seeing his. “Bernie. Bernie, you have to get out of it.”
“What is it, Circe?” he says, and from the look in his once-lovely eyes, I can feel the sunlit summer day he's feeling, see Circe, as beautiful as she must have been to him.
“Circe is dead, Bernie,” Nurse Maggie says for the I-don't-know-how-manyeth time, but it still makes me cry. I back into a corner of the room, cover my face. Through his haze, he sees me.
“Circe,” he says, “where have you been?”
“That's not Circe,” Nurse Maggie says, looking at me sadly, sadly. “That's Marigold. You know Marigold, right, Bernie?”
He looks confused.
“Not Circe,” Maggie says. “Marigold.”
Bernie looks at me and holds his hand out. I don't know who he sees with that distant gaze. I cannot help but reach back.
“You have to help him remember, Marigold,” says Bernie's nurse. But some part of me doesn't want him to remember; I remember all too well. A summer day, the woods, she fell with a hand to a heart that wouldn't work, her heart. Bernie never forgave himself for letting her go walking, and I could not begrudge him the moments he forgot that.
Nurse Maggie pats my head as she leaves, and I try to dry my face, but it just gets wet again. Somehow, I taste salt.
“What's wrong, sweetheart?” Bernie says, worry making his white eyebrows pinch. “Did you get into mischief again?”
“No, Papa,” I say, bringing his hand to my forehead just to feel it there.
“It's all right, Circe,” he tells me, “I never minded your mischief, not one bit.” F