Glenda started having trouble sleeping after Howard died. The bed was too big, too empty. It felt cavernous every time she pulled herself beneath the blankets.
She would put her gray haired head to the cold pillow and stare blankly towards the windows that lined the bedroom walls. The space at her back yawned as if just waiting for her to roll so that the darkness could swallow her whole.
That emptiness didn’t scare her. The part of her that wanted to tumble backwards and give way to that infinite black was what scared her. That’s what the space reminded her of. That’s why she lay awake at night, staring at the street lights that glittered beyond her window.
She’d watch the lamps glow throughout the evening, throughout the night and finally fade as the sun slowly grew again, promising another day.
When the sun rose, she knew what was expected of her. She would wait until the alarm rang, then click it off with a wrinkled finger. Heaving the still warm but barely untucked blankets aside, she would let her feet find the plush carpet. Her toes would patter towards her slippers. After a moment to gather her strength, she would rise on rickety knees.
When she left the mattress behind, the day would come a bit more easily. Her feet would move with more speed in their shuffling step. The routine of bathing and breakfast would enable her to work through the morning. An afternoon of activity, even if it was just reading the paper, would help connect her back to the world that surrounded her. By the time night fell again and the quiet music on the radio was silenced, she almost felt like herself.
Then she would find her way back into the small bedroom, their small bedroom. The unwrinkled sheets, the gap where his book would have been on the nightstand, the air free of his strong aftershave would face her like a bright and shining light. The darkness would beckon. She would wonder whether tonight the tiny voice inside of her weakening heart would answer.