I wrote this for a magazine but missed the deadline: the brief was to write a character portrait of a widow in less than 200 words.
No black in her wardrobe; no tracks of tears: the only thing noticeable was the slightly lighter line around her fourth finger. A year, now, since he’d collapsed at work. She’d got to the hospital to find him already gone. Painless, the doctor said. And, I’m sorry for your loss.
The first few months had just been paperwork. So much had been for both of them, and now there was only one. Every step had been an effort. It was easier now – no, that wasn’t true. She’d got used to it, that was all. She’d stopped crying at the slightest memory; his things had been packed up, and now sat in boxes in the attic. The memories still invaded her dreams, but at least they no longer haunted every waking hour too.
Why don’t you find someone else, they said. She’d been on a few dates, but the men across the table hadn’t been right. They didn’t have the years of entwined conversation. She found it hard to smile, and was grateful when they left in opposite directions.
The absence walked beside her all the way home, his hand wrapped around hers.