Just a Little While Longer

"You know he wants me to forget about you, don't you?" 
"Maybe you should." 
He knew he wasn't really talking to anyone. But ever since she died it had made things a little easier to pretend that she was still there. 
At first he pretended that she was only visiting friends or picking up some last minute item needed to finish that nights supper, but he had to stop that mental game of denial, it was getting too easy and it frightened him.
"He thinks I'm crazy." 
"Aren't you?" 
He didn't say anything for awhile. 
"I guess maybe life is for the living,” is what he finally said, but didn't believe.
"You have to move on Frank, I can't stay here forever." 
"I know, I know, Jesus Christ I know, but it's only for a little while, just a little while longer, please."
He got up from the table and poured himself a cup of coffee.
"Is that my cup?" She asked.
"How much longer are you going to keep my things Frank? It's been over a year now."
He just stared at her. He could see the details of her face were beginning to blur. He had a hard time remembering what she even looked like. It was getting harder everyday. Tomorrow he would have to find her picture, the one where she was all smiles, the one she always said was the only picture of herself she ever liked. Keven would help him find it. He would ask him when he came over.
"Dammit Helen." He shouted slamming an open palm down onto the counter.
"Don't you understand?" 
"It would just make things easier on you is all..." 
"Easier? Easier to what, forget about you?" He asked, his voice cracking.
"Is that what you want Helen, for me to forget about you? God knows thats what Keven wants."
He took another sip of coffee. 
"It's not forgetting Frank, it's moving on." 
"Moving on to what Helen? You were everything. You were my life. My hate. My dreams. All that’s gone now. There’s nothing to move on with." 
"You can't grieve forever Frank or you really will go crazy." 
"Good. I want to suffer Helen. I want to go mad with grief. I want to feel the pain of your loss every morning when I wake up until the moment I fall asleep." 
Tears were forming in his eyes as he walked back to the table they shared every morning for twenty-nine years and sat down across from her. No one said anything. They just sat in silence together and that was enough for him.
He wanted to say so much, but found the silence too oppressive and it strangled the words right out of his throat.
"I know you’re dead. But I.....I can't do this."
"Sure you can Frank, just let all the pain and grief be replaced by the good times we had together. It was a beautiful life we had together filled with so much love; sometimes I thought we would drown in it, and we were always there for each other. You were so good to me Frank, I don't think I could have loved anyone else as much..."
"There was never, not in twenty nine years of marriage, a moment I regretted.."
He felt what little control he had begin to slip away. He had always hated crying in front of her.
"You remember when you asked me to marry you? You cried so hard I couldn't even understand what you were saying, but I didn't have to. I could tell that you loved me and I was so happy to say yes."
And then it hit him. So hard he nearly fell out of his chair. The pain was so intense he could barely sit still. He wanted to run. To run out of the house, into the street, and never stop.
"Oh god!" 
"It's ok Frank." 
"No it's not. I can't even enjoy the good times without being reminded  that they're over. I don't know what to do Helen please help me, I can't do this. I can't face it."
But the truth was he was pleading with only himself. He was alone. Sitting at a table. In the kitchen of an empty house. A house now too painful to live in. 
"How am I supposed to go on Helen, and what would be the point?" 
"I don't know Frank." 
"There will never be anyone else like you, but I'm supposed to just accept that and move on?" 
"You can't change it Frank, it's just how things are."
"But it's so goddamn unfair." He shouted. 
"I wish heaven was real. Hell, it doesn't even have to be real, I just wish I could believe it was." 
She didn't say anything.
"I don't want you to become a dream Helen. I don't want you to become a stranger. I don't want it to be like you were never real." 
He sat there for hours talking to himself trying to understand what couldn't be understood. Feeling as empty as the coffee mug in front of him.
"You should eat something Frank, you've only had coffee." 
"I'm not hungry."
"What happens now Helen?" he whispered, barely audible. 
"Nothing Frank." 
That’s always been the logic of a broken life. Grief had hollowed him out.
This was the way it was for him every morning of everyday and he knew that if he wanted to keep her it would have to continue this way. 
"I love you Helen." 
"I love you too Frank."
Some days he would acknowledge what on other days he couldn't. That nothing he did could ever bind her to him. That healing in effect was akin to forgetting. That every minute that ticked away just meant that he was that much further away from her. His grief was the only real connection he still had to her now and one day he knew she would become only a story and remembering her would get harder and harder until he couldn't tell whether what he remembered even happened or if he had just made it up. She would be taken from him piece by piece in the middle of the night as he slept and he would never know the exact moment when he would lose her. 
And then it would be morning again.

*originally published in Writer Shed Stories Vol.1*


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