Not for the first time she muttered through tight-lipped pain, bastards.
Another red bill had dropped onto the ‘home sweet home’ bristle mat that curled at one edge and made opening the door irritating. Once again the bill was in her dead husband’s name, once again they had ignored her phone call, her letter, my phone call, my email.
Why can’t they stop reminding me he is gone?
It had been three years now since he had died. In a drawer in the bureau with the peeling veneer lay the newspapers with those bold, gruesome headlines. The world had moved on, the papers she had not thought to stop, his papers with their un-attempted crosswords
were become a tottering tower in the cupboard under the stairs, unopened, unread, ready to be recycled.
Shall I put those in the recycling bin?
No, she had said plainly without explanation.
And now as I bag her clothes, her possessions and finally recycle those newspapers
I understand. A single large tear drops, makes an asterisk that spreads as more join it.
A constellation of asterisks. I load up the car to make the final trip to the supermarket clothes bank, look for one last time at the nicotine haloes where souvenir plates used to hang. Close the door and lock the memories in.
The postman hands me a red bill as I leave.
It is in her name.
* * *
Kevin Cadwallender is a writer, editor, poet, artist and filmmaker. He is Red Squirrel Press Commissioning Editor for Scotland. Kevin has published many books of poetry, including ‘Dances with Vowels: New and Selected Poems’ (SmokestackBooks). His 'Voyages' BBC Radio 4 programme was shortlisted for a Sony Radio Award and he just happens to be the current Scottish Slam Champion 2012-13.