1.

She loathed the place—northwest of nowhere in the northeast woods. One of the first times they (he and she) stayed there, the weather had turned grim, all low-cloud grey, drizzle rain and raw. The tall dark hemlocks crowded around the cabin, suffocating and dripping humongous drops that drummed heavily on the roof. The lights went out. He told her they often did at such times. At mid-day, the cabin turned pitch black. A small fire in an oversized stone fireplace pried at the gloom. Wasn't it cozy? he asked, as he put his arm around her.

The hill that was behind the cabin rose like a wave about to crush her. She could hardly catch her breath. She was used to the wide spaces of the sea, expanding horizons of ever-changing sun and cloud, light and color. Ever since she suffered his northeast woods, she needed what she described as her happy pill to regain what was lost there. When she was content (not happy, that had passed long ago), she sang out loud. Her American Yankee boy shushed her every time, mocking her singing voice, which was very lovely. He wanted to listen to his dark silence.

2.

As he got older, his voice got softer and softer. You had to listen carefully to catch his mumbles. To compensate, he wrote more and more about who he had been when he could actually talk, sometimes intelligently.

As she got older, she became more and more deaf. Their worlds of speech and hearing slipped glacially from one another. She would not read his stories. She knew them all (and lived most of them). He had the facts all garbled up, putting his ridiculous slant to them, bringing everybody to his level of loneliness—all so untrue.

They had gone their separate ways long ago.

3.

Walking down the street, he had collapsed and was gone by the time he hit the ground—massive heart attack. He was fifty-five. His death left a hole in her life—not an unpleasant hole, mind you. Their marriage had not been all that great. He had been in the war and returned a drinker. He had always been a philanderer. There was a foreign woman who wrote after he came home, sending pictures of herself and her boy. He ignored them. Even so, the correspondence continued for years and years; the letters stopped before he died.

In his adult life, he pursued one cockamamie get-rich scheme after another. When they failed (and they always did), he would go back to selling cars. He was good at that, but he hated it. He fancied himself another Dean Martin. When he was young he had the looks—dreamy, but no longer by the time he face-planted, belly-down on the sidewalk, blood everywhere. She called their son and told him to take care of the funeral arrangements for his father's body. She had work to do in her garden.


Title image "Not a Good Fit" Copyright © The Summerset Review 2015.