by Rebecca Titchner
I. And so, we did the laundry. We folded the clothes that you would never wear and neatly stacked them in a white plastic laundry basket. You’d written your name on it in black and blue magic marker so no one would take it. Your life was like that. Most everything you owned was in that basket when you showed up at the door on a Sunday night in February. It seemed so absurd to move the heap of jeans and shirts from washer to dryer. What really was the purpose? You wouldn’t be at work. You wouldn’t stand in the kitchen each morning with a cup of coffee that was mostly sugar, or apologize again for dropping the lid of the sugar bowl and breaking it in half. You had no idea you would never wake up. You had no idea you would miss a gloriously warm and sunny Sunday, a day like you mentioned the night before. You said you couldn’t wait for summer. You asked me if I needed help cleaning. You heard something outside and turned to me and asked if I had heard it too. Porcupine, maybe, I said. I think now it was a banshee coming for you and leaving us here with your unfinished laundry. II. The bear wandered into the yard two days after you died tipping over the trash can and scattering garbage on the hillside behind the house: tags from a new shirt you would never wear empty take-out containers bits and pieces of a life that amounted to no more than the wooden box that holds your ashes. III. She asked for his sweatshirt something with his scent something to remind her of his being his presence proof of something more than words unsaid promises unkept moments unlived. She held it to her chest each night and stained it with her tears until all that remained was the scent of loss
Rebecca Titchner has been the Elk County Recycling Coordinator for over twenty years. Prior to that she was a reporter and editor for two county daily newspapers. She and her husband are musicians and some of their original music has been featured on public radio and internet streaming stations. She resides in Ridgway.