her curfew; her acne; her relentless punctuality; her snapping gum; the bubblegum pop in her CD collection; her stifled sneezes; the smell of her menthols; her taste in movies and wine: sweet and cheap; the taste of her tongue in the morning: sour; the sounds she made in an asthma attack; the leftovers she neither threw out nor ate; the hair clinging to the glass door of the shower; the neighbor she forgave for bending my fender; the shabby houseplants, the mangy foster cats, her mother, her brother and her brother’s ex-lover: dying things she insisted on saving, only to watch them succumb in our home; the money spent on bottles of vodka; the powder she left on my shaving mirror; the way she was always forgetting her keys—not the fact, but the way—as if she didn’t care if she got back in the house; the late nights with no phone calls; the long-distance calls to a stranger in Lancaster; the affair (the whole thing); the day she moved out; the two months she was gone; the bruises she brought home; our tense reconstruction of the life she abandoned; the days she seemed to miss him; her smoking again; the brittle edge of her rage while she quit; that whole shitty, wasted year; then the Lamaze classes; the nights she wouldn’t wake up to change wet sheets; the back-to-school shopping trips; the day she forgot to tell me to pick our son up from cub scouts; her habit of quizzing the kids on their homework; her ivy-league expectations; the silence in the car after we left them at state college; the one morning she overslept, lost her job, let the car roll into a fire hydrant and spilled hot tea down her leg; her jealousy when I hugged the secretary at my retirement party; her crying over the foreclosure notice; watching her fill out the change of address; the yard sale; the blaming; the shame; the sympathy cards from her friends; driving her away from the house where we raised our family; the bright-but-bland painting she hung in our tiny, sterile new apartment; her sighs when the kids left after brief visits; the boring soaps and game shows when she had the remote; the evenings she fell asleep before I could say goodnight; her glass full of dentures; the snoring and coughing into her pillow; the sewing she left all over the furniture; the thread; the patterns; the pins; the doctors; the needles; the chemo; the end; the feeling left behind.
Copyright © 2015 Martin C. Hansen
Martin Hansen-Verma lives on the third floor of a house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he dabbles in various creative and destructive pursuits. One of his essays appeared in Solstice Lit Mag. He holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Emerson College, which looks nice in its purple folio. Also in the apartment live two pesky cats and one exquisite, lively wife.