WIDOW

“Aussie, where is my other gray wool sock?”

“I can’t talk right now.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m busy chewing on it.”

“Aussie, for heaven’s sake, you have made the empty space right in front of Bernie’s picture into your personal junkyard. Where’s the respect?”

“I’m a juvenile delinquent, I don’t respect nobody.”

“The Man didn’t ask for respect. He didn’t care about that, certainly not in the last years of his life.”

“Who asked you, Stanley? And why am I talking to a dead dog anyway? Talk to the Delinquent, Stanley. She’s tearing up not only his shoes but also the orange bag he used to carry his iPad in when he only had the use of one arm.”

“Aren’t you doing the same thing?”

“What’s that, Stan?”

“Tearing things apart.”

“I guess so, maybe. I have to break apart bank accounts, credit cards, title to a car, title to a house. I even have to break apart the sense of being half of one whole.”

“You’re doing what Aussie’s doing.”

“Only she’s having more fun, Stanley. Tearing things apart isn’t fun for me.”

“Of course not. You’re the widow.”

“I am not! I hate that word.”

Widow? What’s wrong with it?”

“Oh Stanley, when you say widow I think of someone wearing all black and hiding herself inside a veil. Or else she throws herself onto the funeral pyre. I’m not a widow, Stanley, just a little less than I was.”

“You’re a widow, Eve. Hear it, listen to it. Your husband died, you’re a widow. Say the word after me: Widow.”

“The man from Social Security called me that when he talked to me of widow’s benefits. I could hardly hear what he had to say, Stanley.”

“That’s because you’re a widow.”

“I’m not.”

“You’re confused.”

“You’re right about that, Stan.”

“You’ll get it in time.”

“You know what’s hard for me, Stanley? When I talk to people who were close to him. We tell the same stories, we laugh about the same things. And then I hear the person on the other end of the line say something to someone behind her, maybe even laugh. But there’s no one behind me. No one to laugh at, no one to say to: Just a minute I’ll be right there.”

“You do have Awesome making a racket in her junk yard.”

“That’s true, there’s always the Juvenile Delinquent destroying things right in front of Bernie’s picture like some wrathful dakini, enjoying every minute of it. I guess I have that.”