Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Clarissa tugged the bedcovers up to her chin then rolled on to her side.  She wrapped herself around her full body pillow.  There was no where she needed to be today.  Good thing. Her limbs felt like cement and the weather was gloomy, grey and wet.

She shivered.  Raindrops hit the window then raced down the glass. After a few minutes of watching, she was confident that the left side had the faster track.  Her eyelids drifted shut and she let them.

A few minutes later, she opened her eyes. Her head felt thick and heavy as if she'd spent the night crying. She had not.  Her whole body ached.  The barometric pressure weighed heavily upon her. The rain hit the window harder. A quick glance at the clock indicated her catnap had lasted two hours.  She really should get out of bed.

There was no real reason to do so. No work clock to punch, no pressing engagements, nothing demanded her attention.

"This is why you should get a dog."

Clarissa closed her eyes and wished the illusion away.

"Give it up, Babe."  The bed sank beneath Bob's weight as his arms wrapped around her from behind.  "I'm every where you are."

"Go away, Bob." She shrugged off his weight. "It's too Alan Rickman."

"But I love you. Truly."

"Madly. Deeply. I know."  She sighed and rolled onto her back.  "It was a stupid movie."

"No.  It was a great movie. She wasn't letting go. She wouldn't move on."  Bob slid his hand across her midriff.  "He came back so that she'd stop whitewashing their relationship into this perfect entity that it wasn't. No relationship is perfect. Ours wasn't."

"I remember everything, Bob."  She rolled over to face him.  "You drank the last of the milk then put the empty container back in the fridge. You never emptied the dishwasher or the garbage."

She picked his hand up to examine it. Cancer had eaten his flesh til all that remained was splotchy skin over brittle bones.  Now his hand looked like it hand when he was young and healthy - broad with thick fingers and callouses and burn scars from working at the foundry.

"You left me."

"I tried everything, Clar. Chemo, radiation, drug trials, fad diets, supplements, colonics. I tried everything we could find to beat the cancer and stay with you."

Clarissa dropped his hand.  "Go away."

"I can't until you forgive me."

"Fine.It's not your fault you got cancer and died, Bob. You're forgiven. Now leave me alone."

"Forgive me for the affair."

Shocked, she rolled over to face him.  "You slept with my boss and didn't think I'd find out?"

"I didn't think you'd care."

"So now it's my fault?"

"No." He frowned. "I was the idiot.  I was lonely and afraid of losing you so instead of being a man I flirted with Janet.  She smelled like gardenias."

"She owned a florist shop."

"Yes, she did. And you came home all the time smelling of roses and men's cologne. So instead of being a man and having an honest conversation -" His voice broke.  "Instead of asking you if you were leaving me for him, I slept with her."

"There was no him."

"I know that now."

"Because now that you're dead, you're omniscient?"

"No because Janet told me about the trick of spraying some of the cards with cologne so some women could make their husbands jealous. Juvenile but effective."  He winced.   "How did you find out?"

"When I quit my job to take care of you."

"Why would Janet say anything?"

"Because she was a mean-spirited bitch."  Clarissa stared up at the ceiling.  The stucco needed repainting. There was a streak of colour at the wall's edge.

"I am sorry.  It was stupid.  You're the only woman I ever truly loved."  Bob touched her shoulder.  "Why did you stay?"

"Because I did love love you. Truly. Madly. Deeply." She sighed.  "Because I wanted you to get better so we could fight about it. I wanted you to realize I was worth so much more than to be cheated on, betrayed.  Because I wanted you to beg forgiveness. You never did."

"I am now."

Clarissa dragged herself into a sitting position. The painting at the foot of her bed mocked her with its black and white message. Right and wrong. Good and evil.

She shivered and turned towards her dead husband.  "No, you're not.  This is all me, rehashing the same old argument we never had.  Me, wanting a ghost to tell me all the things you never did. You're not real, Bob."

Her gaze met a blank wall. He wasn't there. He never was.

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