by Amy Kiger-Williams
Her husband was dead now and she couldn’t stop laughing. There he was on the couch, cooling to her touch, the television still tuned to ESPN. His eyes were open and his mouth was slightly ajar, revealing the line of crooked lower teeth, a piece of green vegetable caught near the gum line.
She had found others dead before, her mother who just never woke up one morning, a stranger floating in the lake behind her house, a beloved cat curled stiffly in a corner. And now she was anticipating others’ deaths, a friend with advanced lung cancer, the boy with leukemia on the other side of the lake, the reckless teenagers who she feared might wrap their cars around the telephone pole at the bend in the road.
But this she never anticipated, which was why it was so absurd. Just a little while ago, she had heard him on the phone with his law partner discussing a case. She licked his neck, tasted the salt on his skin. He was wearing his running shoes, a t-shirt and shorts. She could imagine him pounding the pavement, the sweat dripping from his hair, the iPod buds in his ears. He would play Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones while he ran, all those musicians so much older but so much more alive than he was. She laughed at this, too. Charlie Watts was even older than her father-in-law, and they both were still alive, gray-haired and breathing.
She laughed and laughed as she pulled out the half-empty bottle of Gatorade that was held upright between his thighs. She took a swig and laughed some more. She embraced him roughly and held his head between her hands. “Jordan, wake up, you fucker,” she laughed. “You’re fucking with me, Jordan.” His skin was turning ashen under her fingers. She laughed, “You can’t do this to me, you bastard!” She grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him. She pressed her lips against his, and felt the strange sensation of cold, soft flesh. It was all so ridiculous, so she laughed and laughed again, over the volley of the tennis match on TV, beside her husband on the leather couch, until the tears started.