14. Mourning
© Bruce Goodman 24 October 2013

Several times after her husband’s funeral she’d put out two cups on the bench. It’s not that she forgot, it was habit, and her mind this day was on her dental appointment. Every time she put out two cups she laughed and then cried, for there was no one to share the joke with.

Her thoughts turned to the funeral, and how on the way home she ran over a dog. It was the loneliest time of her life, having to bring the dead dog home and bury it in the garden.

That wasn’t the end of it. Several times now a man called at her house and left a bouquet of flowers with a card which read “In deepest sympathy” or “I hope you’re insured” or simply “Dog-killer”. Once when he called she shut the door in his face. She was frightened to unlock her front door after being out. And sometimes when she returned home there was a bunch of flowers on the door step.

Today was different. She decided mourning was over, the flower man hadn’t called for some time, and she was to rid herself of the nasty toothache that had plagued her throughout her husband’s illness.

At the dentist’s she read an article on homeopathy before the nurse ushered her into the dental chair and rigged her out with a bib. The nurse pressed a button and hydraulics lowered her on her back leaving her staring at a sticker of a frog on the ceiling. She thought of how uncomfortable her husband would be lying on his back in the coffin, and the hollow sense of hydraulics lowering the casket into the hole. There was no frog for him to look at, only a lid. Silly thought, she thought.

Out emerged the dentist with the usual greetings, and she closed her eyes tight and opened wide her mouth. At one stage she opened her eyes, looked at the frog and stared into the dentist’s eyes. He seemed to have nice eyes. The mask over his mouth and nose highlighted the humour of their twinkle.

She closed her eyes again. The drill started. The dentist’s eyes were those of the man delivering flowers. She didn’t look again.

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