by Amanda Saint
When I got home from work my dead wife was sitting on the couch. Whole and unblemished and beautiful, like the past ten months hadn’t happened. She was wearing her favourite green tunic and the trainers she’d sewn sparkly love hearts on so she could dance all night without hurting her feet, but still feel dressed up. She smiled and her face and her hair glimmered and glowed.
I closed my eyes.
‘Aren’t you going to say hello?’ she said in a wispy voice that wasn’t quite there.
I opened my eyes and stared at her. Was she mad at me? Was she going to transform into a whirling dervish because I’d finally cleared out all her things? Well, most of them anyway. ‘Hi?’
She grinned the way she always did when she thought she knew something I didn’t. ‘Come and get ready.’ She took me by the hand and led me to the bedroom,
pulled my dancing dress from the wardrobe and handed it to me. When I was ready, she slicked gloss on my lips and mascara on my lashes. In the mirror I caught a glimpse of the woman I was before any of this happened.
Back in the living room, with a waft of her hand, she rolled up the rug and hung the disco ball we always put up at Christmas. Candles flickered on the window ledge and the city lights glimmered white and red behind them. Low and slow bass throbbed through the room. Holding her hand out she said, ‘Would you care to dance?’
I swallowed my sobs as she pulled me into her arms. She was semi-solid and soft, present but not. She kissed my neck and her rosewater perfume wrapped around me as our bodies slotted into each other just the way they always had.
I leaned back and looked in her face. ‘Are you really here?’
She shushed me with a finger to my lips, so I dropped my head back to her shoulder and carried on dancing. Carried on breathing her in. Carried on believing.
‘Happy birthday,’ she whispered as the song ended.
Slowly she peeled away her dress then mine and lay me on the couch. Her airy fingers caressed me as her butterfly kisses brought my body back to life.
After, we mixed cocktails and when we had drunk too many Margaritas and my lips were salt-stung sore, we lay on the couch and stared into each other’s eyes. When the sky started to lighten, she untangled her limbs from mine.
‘Do you have to go?’
She nodded and brushed my hair from my eyes with no trace of sadness on her face.
I could feel the tears coming so I buried my face in her neck. ‘Just another hour?’
She didn’t reply.
‘Half an hour, then? Ten minutes?’ I tickled her in the spot on her waist that always made her melt. Her laughter reverberated through me as I sat up.
She leaned in and whispered, ‘We’re always together.’
I blinked back tears. How come I’d been alone for almost a year then?
She stood and slipped her dress back on, pulled me to my feet and handed me mine before gazing out the window at the sun rising behind the grimy tower blocks. She’d always loved that view. Never let the grime detract from the beauty of the morning sunshine.
When I was dressed, I let the tears fall.
She turned to face me. ‘I’ll show you.’
We sat on the couch hand-in-hand.
‘Close your eyes,’ she said. ‘And don’t let go.’
Wind on my face and chimes in my ears. The swell of the most beautiful orchestra I’d ever heard.
And through it all the clasp of her hand fading away but knowing she was still with me.
Then her voice sang out, sang through me, willing me to see.
I opened my mind.
She was sunbeams and shooting stars, water crashing on rocks and gushing from taps, moon shadows and mountains, spring’s green leaves and winter’s deep frosts, birds floating on the breeze and dolphins playing in the seas. The purest of loves.
She was everywhere and everything.
Amanda Saint is the author of two novels, As If I Were A River (2016) and Remember Tomorrow (2019). Her short fictions have been widely published and placed/listed in many prizes. Amanda founded and runs Retreat West, providing an online writing community, competitions and courses; and the award-winning Retreat West Books indie press, which publishes short fictions, novels and memoirs.