Thursday in the red house on Elliott street.

He knows she is leaving on Monday. He can’t hold her anymore. He took care of her, maybe not as a husband should, but the best he could. He wanted to tell her he loved her. He wanted to protect her. He wanted so many different things, but could show it. They had always done everything separate. Why should things change now? She has her groceries and he has his. She has her medicine cabinet and he has his. Her bedroom is there and his is his chair. How do you change habits 60 years in the making? She is leaving on Monday.

She will be gone from this house. She use to sing in her alto voice, rather low and strong. She hasn’t sung in awhile though. She use to keep up with the conversation and current events. Though they never did talk politics she had her opinions and charities. Those charities. Damn them and their abundance of envelopes  filling the mailbox “Save the whales”, “Save the forest”, “Save the Democratic Party”. Who would save him? Who cared about him? The envelopes piled up and she stopped sending checks. She looks so fragile now. She should eat more, but what? It wasn’t his job to make her dinner. He had told her for years to eat healthier and not buy all that expensive food, what was wrong with the store brand? He tried to show her that half grapefruit was fine for breakfast, but she never listened. She lived her own life and made friends with other people that went to lunch in the afternoons. Why lunch? Breakfast was cheaper, and did it matter where you went? McDonalds served breakfast. He had offered her to go plenty of times. But she always wanted lunch. She is leaving on Monday.

He watches her looking at a magazine sitting on the sofa. She is looking at the pictures and moving her eyes over the words. Her thin legs are balanced on plastic white stool, her knees under her wool pants have scars from the surgery. Her back is pressed against the the loveseat that is 25 years old at least. Under her shirt are the scars on her chest. She is frail. If she just fought harder she would be fine. Her father was the same. He gave up in that final hour. Maybe he understands it now, but not when it comes to her. A small table separates her loveseat and his chair.  An impossible distance a few short months ago. He gets up out of his old chair and moves to the couch. She puts the magazine down and rests with her head back and eyes close. He takes her hand. She is leaving on Monday.

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