Months To Years Winter 2019 Months To Years Winter 2019 - Page 52

The first couple of years in town I was lonely, like champagne, and slow danced to old Sinatra songs. so many of us in what I came to call the “expatriate community,” those who had fled the city for a After that, I could never tell if Sue would be able simpler life, but found themselves at cultural to do anything, because she couldn’t predict loose ends. Sue and Dave were even more alone: the puking. I just had to show up and see what no parents, no siblings, no children. Sue was good happened. Once I came to pick her up for swimming company and willing to try new things. Their little and after she was in the car she said “Stop,” got out cabin was decorated with pictures she had done, of into her driveway, heaved everything out and went trees and deer and dogs, by burning the drawing in the cabin. I asked Dave all the usual questions: into the wood. They were good likenesses and fit “What is going on? Is there anything I can do? “ well in their cabin. Was this art or craft? I decided The answers were always on the theme of “It comes not to care. and it goes,” and “The doctors are not sure.” On good days we would swim at the Y across the The next summer Sue started to fade away. After Mississippi River in Iowa. I had to do my disciplined she and I had sung “Steal Away to Jesus” at my laps, but she gently floated on her back near the church, the only one in town that didn’t scare you side of the pool, and just as gently flirted with the away with sin, Sue was supposed to solo” The Lord’s buffed guys in the sauna, teasing herself about her Prayer.” She came in five minutes before the service big boobs and me about my long legs. We went and couldn’t get beyond “thy kingdom come.” to one of those paint-pottery-on-your-own places, where you paint the bare pieces and they fire them I gave a ladies’ luncheon in October. Sue walked for you. Just before Christmas, Sue spent two hours down the two stairs to my patio carefully, holding on an ornament, a small bear in a wreath, using her macaroni salad, because her legs had doubled every shade of brown, every tint of green, with the in size and her feet were bulging around the straps smallest possible brush. We had to leave because of her sandals. I thought “edema,” and wanted of closing time, but she said “I’m not done. I’ll be to ask why, but didn’t because I knew the answer back tomorrow.” Tomorrow turned into a puking would be the same: silence, or “They’re not sure.” day, so we didn’t make it back. I asked her what happened, and she said she was waiting for test All of us knew that Sue was dying. We didn’t know results. what to say or do. Dave started going to The Table every day, a place where anyone could come for The next year we had a New Year’s Eve party, lunch, no questions asked. On good days Sue came which turned into an eight-inches-of-snow-blizzard, with, always bringing macaroni salad and chatting but Dave and Sue came anyway, walking bent with people who had grown up in town, learning against the wind up the hill to our house. Some their stories. October stretched into winter, Sue of the other expatriates were there, and some more swollen every day, Dave shaking his head in of us played recorder, that vaguely woodwind sorrow or disbelief. instrument for those who played clarinet or flute in their youth, but didn’t have the embouchure, Dave called in February. He had found Sue on the the cheek strength, to do it anymore. It has a floor, unconscious, and an ambulance had taken vaguely haunting, Renaissance quality to it. I was her to the closest hospital, as they are required by getting mine out of its cloth case, and Sue asked law to do. The closest hospital was not the best. if I was getting my vibrator ready. I told her no, We expatriates called it St. Anubis, the ancient mine was upstairs, maybe later. We all drank warm Egyptian god of death. We wondered what had 52