Friday, December 10, 2010


By Kortnee Tilson

The hours have approached with the anticipation of speech, and they passed with nothing, a silence that she loathes. He has not spoken in three days, perhaps he never will again. She thinks, I could get used to this, because, after all, humans are an adapting species. He had once told her that if the world flooded, humans would grow gills and fins and everyone would be a mermaid. She remembers this story as she pours him a glass of water and sets it in front of him, she doubts he will drink it when she is there.

She spends the day watching his mouth for any twitch of a movement, whether that be an opening to speak or a smile. He hasn’t smiled, either, which she doesn’t hold against him because she too has not smiled in three days. When watching him gets to be too much, she goes to the mirror and watches herself instead. Her reflection is alien, it’s an old woman whose face is ripped with wrinkles and tiredness. Not since she turned forty, a decade or so ago, has she been content with this woman in the mirror. She longs for youth like all the women do, she buys face creams and anti-age formulas but gives up on them for being tedious and feeble. Because humans have aged and will always age, she figures that she will eventually learn to be friends with the old woman in the glass, but for now she stays a stranger.

When she returns to him, the glass is empty of the water, not even a drop. She finds comfort in that he is still a thorough person and hopes he will always be, even if he’s silent.

In the kitchen, there are vases of white flowers that she doesn’t know what to do with. She won’t keep them in the house much longer, they are stinking the room up with pollen and sorrow. She waits to see if they will wilt in the next hour. If a petal falls, she will take them outside and leave them to rot in a ditch. But they don’t, and she leaves the kitchen to face the rest of her house. She has never been so restless.

At night, they lie in their marital bed and she decides she wants to be able to make love again. He is still and just barely breathes, though she isn’t afraid that he’s stopped. He has had strong lungs all his life. She turns to her side and drapes her arm across his chest. It’s the first time she’s touched him in three days, she hopes he feels it. In the dark, it is apparent that neither of them are asleep. She can see that his eyes are open and they’re looking at her. He keeps them closed when she kisses him, he keeps them closed when she lifts off his clothes. Because they are humans and humans have mates, they love each other in a way they haven’t before. She thinks it’s one of the saddest things she’ll ever experience.

Morning comes and so does a light snowfall, it’s early November and the sun is hidden behind a wall of grey clouds. Everything is dull. He has awoken early and crept down the stairs, into the kitchen. He takes the white funeral flowers and he gets rid of them. He keeps the Sorry For Your Loss cards and puts them in a distant drawer. When she comes into the kitchen, wrinkled and tired, he speaks and says what is obvious.

“I miss her.”

She walks around the room and enfolds him to her chest like she would a teddy bear. It occurs to her that he was silent, she thinks, because he was closer to her in that way. Their child is silent in her grave, he was silent in his; this empty house. She says what is obvious.

“I love you.”

She wonders if they will be around to see the world flood, if they will become mermaids… probably not, they are only human.

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Kortnee Tilson is a senior student living in Ontario who writes short stories, flash fiction and the odd poem. She has been featured on Daily Love three times.


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