Untitled (Part 1)

George is 57 when the love of his life dies; it is sudden and unexpected. Ann is 55 when she passes away in her sleep, and what should be considered a peaceful passing is regarded as suspicious by the local authorities as they investigate George’s house like it’s a crime scene. George remains quiet; he is too weak to speak. He watches, through misty eyes, as his wife’s body is wheeled away, and with no strength to fight back, allows the policeman, who is the same age as George, put him in handcuffs. This isn’t the first time George is considered a suspect, he had a drinking problem, which often led to bar brawls, but he never, in his 35 years of loving Ann, hurt her. Ann was his light, but alcohol was his temptress.

They take Ann’s body to the local morgue, and place George in a holding cell until they are able to determine the cause of Ann’s death. What feels like a lifetime later, the autopsy results prove George’s innocence; Ann died of a heart attack in her sleep and George is released. He returns to his empty home, alone, as a widower and to a life he is not ready to accept.

14 hours have passed since the paramedics wheeled Ann’s body away and 22 since he last held her in his arms as the sensation of her body rising and falling with her breath soothed him to sleep. George doesn’t turn on the lights as he enters his house, he doesn’t turn on the light when the kettle starts to boil, nor does he turn on the light as he walks to the living room. George wants to be in complete darkness; his guiding light has been extinguished. After he is done his tea, George lights two candles and does something he has never done before, he prays for two souls: one departed and one living.

George is not a spiritual man, he does not like the idea of God playing dice with the universe, out of the two of them it was Ann who took comfort in praying every night. George accepted this nightly ritual of Ann’s. He would sit by her side holding her hand while she silently prayed for George: his health, his transgressions and his safety. She never included herself in her prayers, but on days when she felt pain, she would add, “and don’t forget me, dear Lord, your humble and faithful servant.”

The antique grandfather clock inherited from Ann’s father chimes the witching hour, a floorboard creaks down the hall in the old farmhouse, another chore on George’s to-do list – Ann would write the list, and George, the handyman would do them. One of the candle flames begins to flicker and dance as if someone is trying to slowly blow it out. A door slams shut, and the dancing flame goes out. A window must be open in one of the rooms, George assumes. He doesn’t believe in spirits, but still gets an eerie feeling every now and then, like right now, but shrugs it off. He blows out the other candle and can’t remember if that one was the one he lit for Ann or for himself. In bed, George slowly caresses the place where Ann’s body should be and sheds a tear for the second time in his life.

George and Ann lived a quiet life: George was a loving and tender husband, which complemented Ann’s young and wild heart. George was dearly devoted to Ann, and Ann, from the day she said “I do” cared for George as if no one else existed. And no one did, until George and Ann had their first child. Ann was a natural at mothering, but George never got the hang of it, and before he could, their baby boy was snatched out of their hands by death disguised as SIDS. That night, while Ann wept in the nursery, George cried for the father he would never become, and the baby he loved but didn’t know how. To stop the pain of loss, George found faith in whisky, and Ann turned towards the Lord.

Dawn comes quickly and the sun is cruel when one desires darkness, but darkness is not a reliable companion, unless you pretend, and so George does. He does not open the blinds as Ann always did, he does not sit on the front porch as they did almost every morning, and he does not turn on the radio, instead George wants stillness and darkness and the only prescription is sleeping pills and whisky. George takes two pills, swallows them down with his whisky, climbs back into bed, and sleeps. In the living room, the pendulum has stopped swinging, and the big hand and the little hand are pointing at 12. Unbeknownst to George, time has paused for him, while time around him is still moving.

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