The Conversation

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“When I die, please don’t let there be any gardenias at my funeral,” she said, staring blankly out the car window.

All the lights in the history of time reflected in the wet street as the caravan of shiny black Town Cars crawled through Manhattan at dusk. The blurry symphony of color barely registered. Any other time and she’d be reaching for her iPhone to snap a few photos of the interesting reflections – maybe post them on Instagram.

“Hmmm… What? Sweetie, did you say something?” came his response a full minute later.

“Also please don’t let me die during the winter. Winter is already too hard. Winter sucks! Summer is when I want to die. Lots of sunshine. Or spring, maybe. Yes, spring. A nice, sunny spring day. Or….” her voice cracked. “…DAMN IT! There isn’t a good time of year to bury your best friend, is there?  I couldn’t breathe,” she whispered.

He reached across the expanse of the cold leather seat and took her hand. “I’m sorry,” he said, rubbing his thumb across the tops of her fingers. “Yes, winter sucks.”

She turned to face him, pulled her hand from his in order to adjust her weight. The scooch of her pleather skirt against the leather seat produced a noise remarkably similar to the sound that often emanated from their Great Dane. Continue reading

Even Steven

fall light

Late afternoon light spilled into the modest living room through the open door. Monty, who lay napping in the sunny spot, was probably taking Claire’s sudden death harder than anyone. The two had been inseparable the past three years. Claire had found the abandoned puppy rooting around inside a toppled garbage can on her weekly walk to Hudson’s market six blocks east of her tiny cottage.

“I’ve given him my dinner scraps and a bath with my dandruff shampoo.” Claire told Thelma on the telephone that night. “He sure is a cute little thing.”

“Well, you’ve done your good deed, now put him outside and let him find his way home.” Claire’s best friend had said. “The last thing you need is a filthy animal living in your spotless house.”

“Maybe.” Claire had replied. “But right now, I’ll just let him sleep here in my lap. I think that bath wore him out.”

Everyone thought it was strange that Claire kept the dog. She had never allowed pets in the house while the kids were growing up. Even stranger, they thought, was that Claire had named the puppy after her deceased husband of 57 years.

“It was a nice service.” Thelma said as she served herself a helping of the lasagna that pastor Bill’s wife, Anita had dropped off earlier. She sniffed before taking the first bite.

“Yes, and didn’t she look natural.” Said Sissy, Claire’s youngest daughter, who sat at one end of the kitchen table that was piled with food.

A steady stream of family, friends and neighbors had kept the screen door busy all day but now there were just a handful left as the sun set outside. A quiet settled over the little house. Everyone was tired from the day’s sad activities.

Claire’s granddaughter, Sharon broke the silence. “I remember spending many a summer here. I loved Grandma Claire, but dreaded the daily cleaning regimen. Continue reading