Credit: Beanbox

A micro story about a woman facing yet another reminder of her husband’s death.

What I’m Writing This Week

Single Again

Bob Gillen

Marie Reston returned home from her Starbucks run with a slice of lemon loaf and a grande Americano. Early afternoon on an October Sunday. Hours to kill till it was time to make dinner. She flipped on her TV. Two weeks ago she had recorded a movie she had been promising herself she would watch soon. An action thriller set in the Colorado mountains. Not her usual TV fare, but she needed a distraction.

Marie set her snack next to her easy chair, hit Play to begin the movie. She strained to make out the dialogue. Two men in winter gear sat around a fire. Why was character audio so hard to hear on movies? Several words popped up clearly. Frio. Cuidado

What the hell? She had recorded the Spanish-language version of the film. Shit.

Marie turned off the recording. She scrolled through the current TV fare. Might as well be doom scrolling. Nothing worth watching. She settled on a cooking show for a few minutes. Pasta shells with pancetta and broccoli rabe. Her stomach rumbled. Enough of this.

She turned off the TV, picked up her iPad to find Spotify. The music site suggested an album of piano solos called December, by George Winston. She connected her bluetooth to the soundbar under the TV and hit Play on the album. She finished the lemon loaf, sipped the Americano.

Maria picked up her laptop, opened to her bank website to check her account status. Yesterday she had met with the local branch manager to close out her deceased husband’s accounts and remove his name from her accounts and their joint credit card. Kenny was gone just over a year, a short bout with a deadly disease. Marie had waited this long to adjust the accounts, figuring there would be no further direct deposits or other activity. The bank manager accomplished the adjusting in half an hour. Marie gave no thought to it afterwards.

Now, seeing only her name on the bank accounts, she felt a loneliness creeping over her. On the December album Winston played “Carol of the Bells”. She stared out the patio window at the October skies, the Southern California foliage fringed with a touch of color. The vision grew blurred as tears welled up in her eyes. Kenny’s name was gone from their accounts. After so many years, she was again a single account holder. Maria shuddered. Tears flowed freely.