Her mother was gone. Alas and alack. Siblings dissolved into sarcasm and dinners in family restaurants. This was an ending. This was the beginning of her end. She could barely speak. She wrote death poems instead. Friends said, "I hope you feel better soon." But she didn't feel better soon. Friends said, "I don't know how to respond to this level of grief." Their babies hid their phones and keys. Their jobs put them to sleep. Mouse crap littered her cupboards. She tried live-catch traps, then poison. The house quaked and creaked. The house told her she owned nothing. The dogs said, "Don't look to me, my queen. I too am dying." Her husband coughed up, "I love you, hon, but I'm on deadline." Death tapped at her window like a dapper Dracula. He said, "Illicit sex is all that's left of romance." He bought her soft-serve and rowed them out to sea, where porpoises laughed and promised a kind of immortality or at least the suburban version of Lethe: cheese, wine, and movies. Death kissed her fingers into ice, ran his cold tongue down her chest until her heart froze, blue topaz: the maiden encased in ice. Nothing felt good to her—the best. So why did she break up with him? His icicle penis? His one-track mind? The fact that, at core, he was a man of business? Was it something he said? "Disintegration"? "Final Solution"? Something he hadn't done? Killed the mice? Changed the lightbulbs? Yes and yes. Mostly, it was September. New England is gorgeous in October. In November, she'd need to rake the leaves. Come December, gifts for nieces. As much as she loved death, she wasn't dead yet.
first published in Lunch Ticket