When Myrtle Turns 90
She pulls his houseslippers from the closet where she’d tucked them last year, slides them on, and scuffs down the hallway, closing her eyes just long enough to imagine it’s him, shuffling to the kitchen to do what he always did—coffee in bed for his favorite girl.
She opens the warped front door, its hinges creaking for oil, his slippers slapping against the driveway as she retrieves the Statesman Journal the way he always did—they’d read the headlines to each other as the buckwheat batter sizzled in the grease left dripping from the bacon.
She shuffles back to the closet, reaches for the shoe box overhead that seems higher and heavier than it did before, empties its contents onto the bed and fingers the crinkly paper of his letters, sniffs the half-bottle of Old Spice, pins the ruby brooch on her housedress and hums a favorite song.
She flips through the collection of LPs until she finds it, sways as the needle purrs her back to 1961 when two drifters were off to see the world—and what a lot of world there was to see, with him, her huckleberry friend.
She wraps up in his thick blue cardigan, curls into his lumpy armchair and reads the obituaries, as she does every morning now—it’s Eleanor Schneider and Owen Parcell today, two more in a string of friends stretching back years—and she wonders aloud how close she is to the head of the line.
She sighs, a smile resting on her once-plump lips, and whispers, “It won’t be long now, my love—and Moon River, we’ll see.”