Zest Lit Issue 2, October 2013 - Page 94

The cemetery is empty of other humans, except for the non-living ones. A small piece of ice melts on Joe’s tongue. It’s been eighteen months since his wife’s death. At the brief memorial service (a religious ceremony would have repulsed her) people lied to him when they said time heals all wounds. They lied to him with clichés spilling from their tongues.

The headstone, marbled pink, was carved from an Italian alp, the Cadillac of granite, Joe was told. He takes another drink and looks away, not wanting to see the beginning and ending dates of his wife’s life; they are already etched onto the surface of his eyes.

The sky, surrounding Joe, begins to shift in color. The wind chills, as if the dead are breathing. Soon, like a warm bath, the vodka soothes his body.

His wife had never wanted them to socialize. Even at holidays, she made them keep to themselves. Joe baked a ham on Easter, a turkey on Thanksgiving, a prime rib on Christmas Eve, just for the two of them. But after the prime rib, when she had gone to bed because of her bloat, Joe left the house and took his mother to midnight mass at Our Lady of Sorrows Church.

Headlights stream on the road outside of the cemetery. Joe swallows the last of his drink and squats to the ground, his hand feeling the grass that grows above his wife. Against the blades, his fingertips push and dig into the soil to feel the earth.

In silence, Joe vows to come to the cemetery only every other night next week; he will say yes when Larry asks him to grab a beer after work; and tomorrow, he will call their neighbor, Gloria, who is