Last night I fantasised Joe died in his sleep, again.
I look at myself in the full length mirror, straightening the dress I’ve chosen for Joe’s funeral. I try on the hat. Not bad for 56. I rummage through the shoes at the bottom of the wardrobe and step into a pair of stilettos. Arranging the hem of the dress, I breathe in. Not bad at all.
On the laptop, sitting on my bed, is a picture of Gavin, the surgeon, 46, widowed, who enjoys golf and dining out. Can’t remember the last time I dined out. I’m only looking. But I have two photos ready for when the time comes.
Last week Joe had pains in his chest, again. When I watch him sleeping, I imagine him waking, red faced, one hand on his chest, the other clutching his throat. Joe’s father died at 59 of heart failure. Joe is 59.
Are stockings appropriate at a husband’s funeral? Maybe they’re only appropriate in the bedroom, fantasising about a husband’s funeral.
I kick off the stilettos, take off the hat, and fall onto the bed.
Joe’s on his way to Nottingham, visiting his mother. She’s a good age: 82. My parents died at 65 and 67.
The red colon on the clock flashes. In the corner of the display are three letters: SUN. Sunday means sex. For twenty six years, Sunday has meant sex.
I stand and look in the mirror. Might get away with 50, maybe even 49. With the right make-up, with my hair done, maybe 48.
The phone rings. I imagine it’s Joe’s car overturned, on its roof, spinning on a wet motorway. Broken glass. Crumpled metal.
Breathe. I answer it. ‘Hello.’
‘Am I speaking with Mrs Kennedy?’
‘I’m phoning on behalf of Moonshine Life Insurance.’
I put down the phone, sit on the bed, and inhale deeply.
I imagine telling Joe about the phone call over dinner, how it scared me. Then we’d watch TV, then go to bed and have sex, not because the clock says it’s Sunday, but because I’m sorry.
I take off the black dress and put on my dressing gown. I smooth the duvet, arrange the pillows, and reach to close the lid on the laptop. But there’s a message from the surgeon; he wants to see a picture.
I look at the bedroom door where Joe’s dressing gown hangs.
On the laptop I click on marital status. I bite the inside of my cheek and flex my fingers over the keyboard like a pianist. The cursor on the screen hovers over a new status: widowed.
Joe’s side of bed has a dull mark where the back of his head leans against the cream headboard.
I cross my legs and my dressing gown falls open. I run a slow hand across nylon-covered legs.
The red colon on the clock blinks. Second-blink. Second-blink. Second-blink.
I could never leave Joe. I could never do that to him.
On the laptop I change my marital status to ‘widowed,’ and stare at the phone.
ADAM LOCK writes in the Black Country, UK, waking far too early in the morning to find time to write. Adam has had stories published in various publications, such as STORGY, Fictive Dream, Spelk, Here Comes Everyone, Retreat West, Fiction Pool, Ellipsis Zine, Syntax & Salt, Occulum, and others. Website: adamlock.net. Twitter: @dazedcharacter