The story was on page five of the local paper: two women, out for their normal early morning walk, were killed yesterday. A car, driven by an elderly man, ran them over from behind. The man apparently suffered a heart attack while driving home from the 7-11, and lost control of the vehicle. All three were pronounced dead at the scene.
I read and reread the article. It said all three had spouses. One of the women had a young son. The man was a grandfather of four. Nowhere did the article mention they had the chance to say good-bye to their loved ones. Nowhere did it read they had kissed or hugged their spouses before going out that morning.
I read this during the silent breakfast taking place in our kitchen. The sun, rising later every day, had not yet even hinted it was on its way. You sit across the table from me, looking at page four. Perhaps you are reading it, but I think you are trying to look through the paper, like Superman, to see if I’m reading or hiding.
You needed to blame someone. I know you blamed me. Your pain and anger required a focal point. They needed a villain. They needed something tangible to strike at, to make it feel the way you do.
Abigail, our infant daughter, born healthy, was suddenly taken from us for reasons I can’t understand. We did everything right. We did it by the book. Then two months ago it all went wrong. We saw our perfect little world turn monochromatic gray. All substance and texture removed in an instant.
Since then, we barely acknowledge each other as we go through the motions of pretending we are alive. We don’t speak because we have nothing to say. Grief has cut out our tongues and numbed our souls.
But my pain stems from guilt. You were the one who put her to bed, who sang her a lullaby, and wished her sweet dreams. Tired from work, I was in bed early and missed my last chance.
This morning, like all weekday mornings, I will go to work. I will venture out and try to function in a world that moves without pity, and I’m frightened. We don’t know the future. Things that aren’t supposed to happen do so without warning and at random.
So please, for God’s sake, this morning when I leave, won’t you please kiss me goodbye?
Jon Beight lives in Western New York. He began writing on a whim and now can’t seem to stop. He has been pulished in Microliterature, Front Porch Review, Sometings Brewing Anthology, Feathertale, and other fine magazines.
–Art by Marta Bevacqua
–Art by Alphan Yýlmazmaden
–Art by Seamus Travers