She emerged from the bedroom right as he finished making his coffee. He was always the early riser, but he required far less sleep than her.

Smiling widely, she took a deep breath. “Oh, what a great smell.” As he glanced at his hands, mug of coffee in the left, and a plate of waffles with butter and syrup on the right, she clarified, “Not the waffles. I don’t smell them at all. I just smell coffee. It smells wonderful.”

His response wasn’t deep. He was already working on his yard and garden in his mind. Although the temperature was only fifty-one at this early hour, a strong sun, unfettered in its warmth or sunshine by seasons or clouds, was rising. He was eager to get out there and get dirty.

The point for him was that she seemed okay, and in good spirits, something important in later introspection. Eating and finishing his coffee, he went outside and completed hours of yard work, interrupted only with a few breaks to pee, drink water and wipe away sweat. He loved this part of his week, shaping the yard, trimming the bushes, weeding, pouring more decorative bark and spreading it out. The end results pleased him with tangible, visible evidence that his efforts achieved something, a result that eluded him in most other activities in life.

Going into the house, he made lunch and then went looking for her to talk about the yard and thoughts that had come to him while he was out there. He found her asleep in a recliner with a throw covering her. Although the house thermostat reported the temperature was seventy-one, she had a space heater on by her feet. The room was frighteningly hot to him.

“Hey,” he said, not sure how loud to speak or what to say.

Her eyes fluttered open. Her mouth was slack. Drool glistened out of one corner and down her chin. She remained in her pajamas. “Are you alright?” he asked.

She closed her eyes. “I’m cold.”

“Can I do anything? Get you anything? Water? Juice, or tea?”

She shook her head once in the barest movement possible.

“Are you sick?”

Opening her eyes a little, she looked at him and nodded.

“What is it?”

“Tired,” she whispered, closing her eyes.

Frowning, he returned to the kitchen and cleaned his lunch dishes, worrying about what was happening to her. He wanted to make sense of her condition. He’d heard the vacuum cleaner running while he was working outside. He’d looked through the window once and saw her dusting in the living room. It didn’t make sense. Several medications were prescribed for her to cope with her auto-immune disease. Perhaps one of these were suddenly affecting her. That was the hopeful aspect. Worse was that the disease had taken the drastic negative turn they’d always feared.

He heard her shamble down the hall. The bathroom door closed. Bath water began running. He listened, thinking about her and the situation, and then sat at the breakfast table and wondered, what would he do if she was gone?


Written in a dream, remembered in the morning.


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