by Myfanwy Collins
She grabbed his arm just above the elbow. Her bony fingers clasped, unclasped, clasped, unclasped–like one’s thighs in that second after climax, wanting that tiny bit more. Wanting for that feeling of pressure and numbness not to end. Never to end. Oh God no.
And as she let go of his arm for the second time, she opened up to him about how her baby had died–her only son. How he had been over there–across the cold, gray ocean, over the dark mountains, beyond the snowy trees–deep in the dry and crystalline desert.
How he had died alone, on a dusty street in a city where she could not reach him. A street she had not even heard of before she learned of blood leaking out of a hole in his stomach turning the pavement red and sticky (the blood would leave a stain much like an oil leak would).
She told how he had taken his last breath among strangers and how his blue, blue eyes had glazed over like a pond in winter.
All of this had happened, she said, without her knowing.
She grabbed his arm again. (Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze went her fingers like a blood pressure pump. The arm tightened and flexed ever so slightly.)
She had only felt, that day (or night, or whenever it was) a tug deep inside of her, in her bones almost and then she knew he was gone. But before she had heard for certain she had gone on smiling on that day of the death of her only son because that is what one did on any normal day. One played tennis. One ate lunch at the club. One bickered with one’s husband (who was not the father of her son, after all) about something inconsequential (like quitting smoking, for example) over cocktails.
She let go of the now limp arm.