Sundays I drive her to the cemetery to visit her husband of fifty years. Ive had her for two, and when I tell her I love her as much as he did, she laughs.
I have to hold her elbow and help her over the bumpy grass. Today its raining and we brought just one umbrella, so we are closer than usual. As we approach his grave I sense her pulling away, trying to make me a stranger, but its raining too hard.
Usually I leave her to talk to him, and walk into the tall spruce trees and sit and look up until Im dizzy. The treetops sway even on calm days, and you feel like youre moving.
But she wont put me out to the rain, so we just stand there and she doesnt say a word, when normally I know she chats up a storm, her mouth moving and her hands floating as I back away. Sometimes I hear her laughter as Im watching the trees, and she sounds like a girl, and I try to imagine the million memories she has with him.
I look at her stone: Wife Alison, Sept. 3, 1934
Why dont you say something? I ask, but a crack of thunder sends us back to the car.
Rain pounds the roof. She is silent. I reach and hold her arthritic hand. The ring I gave her is on the correct finger. His is on her right hand, which has become more swollen, so now his is the ring that wont come off, where mine still can.
I love you, I say. Were married.
Of course, she says.
* * *
By the time we get across town to my plot, the sun is out, and steam rises from my stone. This was arranged years ago, when I thought I would die alone. Alison laughs, thinks its creepy to visit myself when Iím still alive.
She waits in the car, not looking my way.
Well, old boy, I say. I get to one knee and take off my hat.
* * *
The streets fog as we drive to the diner. We take our usual booth in silence.
Alison perks up after her sips of coffee. Her warmed fingertips creep towards mine, which withdraw just enough so she doesnt notice. I want to say to her, Everyone dies alone, but Big Sal arrives just then for our order.
The usual? She arches her fake eyebrows, pokes Alison, and adds with a wink, Hows the love of your life?
I excuse myself for the bathroom. I dont want to hear.
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