“Is it better?”

Gayla turned from the window, “Better?”

“With the certainty. . .”, Mesma faltered.

“Oh, you mean like closure?”

“Yes,” Mesma nodded.

“Do you believe in that crap? I’m surprised.”

Gayla stared out the window, her back to the kitchen were Mesma shifted uneasily in her chair.

“But the therapists say . . .” Mesma hesitated.

Gayla cut her off, “The stages of grieving, moving on, acceptance. It’s all psychobabble bullshit.”

Mesma had never seen her neighbour like this. Bitter. Cynical. Perhaps it was the wine they had been drinking all afternoon.

Gayla held her glass up to the window, the liquid prismatically shifting sunset into the room.

Mesma, after repeated urging by her therapist, Jemma, called Gayla asking if they could spend some time talking. She brought a bottle of chilled white wine and some nibblies she baked in the morning. A routine activity to distract her from the quietness; the way the air lay still and thick on everything. Like a layer of dusty memories.

“I mean,” Mesma began again. “Without knowing for sure he is never going to walk back into my life, how can I start a new one?” Both their husbands went missing; Gayla’s several years ago; Mesma’s more recently. Jemma recommended reaching out to other “not-quite widows.” Gayla and Mesma lived in the same town home complex. Gayla’s husband eventually was declared dead, based on intel and observation. Later, DNA evidence. Mesma still waited.

“Like Helen Hunt does in Cast Away. Tom Hanks returns as an interloper into her newly settled happiness?” Gayla stared at the cut-glass crystalline rainbow she continued to create above Mesma’s head.

“No. That’s a movie. And it made me cry, especially at the end without knowing if he goes towards or away from the woman how saved his life.” Mesma felt like she was drowning in her words. She reached for her glass, taking a deep gulp. It was the not knowing; the dark imagings of what he was going through. Especially during the hour of the wolf, between 2 and 3 in the morning when she couldn’t sleep. Visions of his body decaying; animals ravaging. Worse, thoughts that he choose to disappear; to leave her and restart his life without her. Images of him enjoying freedom  . . .

Gayla’s gaze returned to the deepening shadows in the yard. “Mesma, I apologize. You are raw; my wounds have scabbed over. Just the scars to pick at.”

“You see,” Gayla whispered, “My head recognizes he is dead. Gone. I am free. But my heart . . . my heart is still so afraid he will come back. One morning, I will hear his voice, feel his breathe on my cheek. That his  death was only my dreaming  . . . ”

mlmm’s sunday prompt, “Death”, request:

“. . .  to write a comparative/exploratory tale or conversation between two (women or men) who have lost their significant other; one knows that their spouse is dead, the other has every reason to believe that their spouse is dead but has no way to confirm it (spouse lost at sea etc.).”

As usual, I coloured, at least slightly, outside the lines.

Illustration: Albert Lynch (Getty Images)