Jane’s husband is dead on arrival, head-on collision. Empathetic murmurs begin. She could have been working in ER today but called in sick. I see colleagues scurry around gathering shiny tidbits. Clear day, dry roads, no rubber scars from slamming breaks. New theories collect. Did he scream “I’ll teach the bitch” when he veered hard left? Angular comments resurrect when Sue remarries one year later.
After my husband’s death, I know the same colleagues gather in two’s and three’s, lean over steaming cups of black coffee, full-bodied rumours soaking through the hospital like the stain from a glass of merlot toppled on crisp white linen. “She’d just left him, so messy. Had to kick down the door. Anyone know cause of death?” A decade later, my dreams gush these brackish memories with your fresh love. Your brass bed, lodged on the border between scrub grass and sand, glitters with the caress of morning sun. The stench of beached seaweed drifts by as seagulls swoop up and down, carousel creatures released, the ha-ha-ha of their call mocking me.
There’s warmth along my back. I turn to embrace the one beside me, shrouded in white sheets. Her deceased husband? Mine? You? An amalgam of all three. As I struggle to untangle myself, rain starts to drum away the shoal beneath brass feet. I reach for a sea shell. Into its cochlea I confess “ I only wanted space to live” before my heart pounds me awake
First appearing in Ibis Head Review Vol.3 Issue 2 January 2018