I stared at the calendar on the wall and the phone in my hand for what seemed to be hours. It was today.
It was that day.
For months, now, I had felt its gradual return. The burning anxiety, aching deep in the pit of my stomach. Each year it came. And each year it left. So much easier when the clock struck midnight for the next day. The knot would loosen, the anxiety would melt away. You could feel a change in the air around here on this day.
Nobody came near. No calls, texts or emails. It was like they got together and chose to shun me for one day. The rest of the year everyone treated me no differently. Proper greetings at the post office or store, waving on the street. It was all very normal. All very sane.
I was not not sane. They all knew it. They all pretended I was normal, one of them.
It wasn’t like this all those years ago. Back then they showed up with casseroles that went bad, baked goods that drew animals – and animal control, and the vases of flowers covered the porch. As the years went on, they stopped. My porch is bare save the old rocker she used to sit in.
That’s what really drew the crowds. Her presence. I can still feel her if I concentrate, which I try not to do. It’s too hard,
And today, as in the past, I hold the phone in my hand and stare at the calendar. I know I will never call him. Its too painful. Too devastating. I promise to call in the morning, but I know I won’t. Neither of us can bear the misery of remembering that day.
The lush curves in the road.
The silence that followed.
We haven’t spoken since. At the memorial we sat together, as is customary. We even held hands. Now, the only thing connecting us is that memory. He couldn’t stand to be here, in their house, and face the pain and guilt of that day. Today. Closing my eyes I remember it all so vividly. Much like a mother remembers the birth of her child, or someone missing their lover on a lonely night. The sights, smells, how the seat felt. All of it. Lynyrd Skynyrd was playing on the radio.
Jolted out of my own head by the ringing phone, I see its him calling. Its shocking and I dropped the phone on the faded tile floor. Very slowly I feel myself bending and picking it up, the ringing seemingly louder. With a deep breath I answered.