who were always polite, and I would go back to my mother, the housedark except for the light of the television, a pile of my boxes in the guestbedroom that I didn’t know whether or not to unpack. I would sit downnext to my mother, who was waiting and ready to die because it wasGod’s will that she be with Cal again. I would bring her blankets andhot tea, comfort her with tiny lies, guess the answers on whatever gameshow she was watching, because that was the only thing I could think todo, because for those brief moments, there was something like certainty.For once, I was doing something right.
I saw Pete and Rosalind three days later outside Thai Aroma, formerlyAl’s Hotdogs. I was picking up medicine at the Walgreens on the samestrip. When I got back to the car and put the key into the ignition, Ilooked up and there they were. Rosalind laughed at something Pete said.She grabbed his hand, or maybe he grabbed hers, because that was something he did now, with her. They were a perfectly blond, happy match.When they pulled away in Rosalind’s silver Ford Explorer, I followed.
It was dark already. I stayed one car behind them. I didn’t plan it,but when they turned into a gas station, I turned, too. I parked behind agarbage bin and watched as Pete filled the tank. Rosalind stayed in thedriver’s seat, looking at her phone.
She worked as a legal secretary and dressed fancy: black slacks andpearl earrings. My mother had said that Pete worked for Rosalind’s father, who owned an HVAC company. He wore jeans and a gray fleece.
I followed them all the way till the last turn onto their street.
“What took you so long?” my mother asked when I got back. “Did
they have my prescriptions?”
She retied the peach bathrobe that perhaps used to be pink. She wore
“There was a line.”
It was a bad lie, but she didn’t question it, taking the bag and study-
ing the labels on the bottles. “I’ll sleep like a log tonight. Tell me if these
things make me snore. Cal always told me what made me snore. Red
wine but not white. Chocolate. Claritin. Italian food.”
The doctors said they couldn’t operate, but they could shrink the tu-
mor with chemo and radiation. The prognosis was reasonable at best.
After two husbands who’d already done it, my mother said she didn’t
mind the dying, but she didn’t want to die bald and shrunken. Besides,
Cal had brought her to the Lord, and both of them were waiting. With