It’s an old chair. A well used chair. One that has seated its share of guests and heard its quota of secrets and meted out a good measure of comfort. The chair sat in the nursery for decades, making a cushy seat for the nursemaid when she wasn’t walking the floor with a colicky baby. After the nursery became a study, the chair had a grand refurbishing in burgundy velvet. It sat under a bright lamp, digesting scholarly papers while its occupant snored. In the attic now, a mouse has made a nest in the seat. Time to reclaim it.
Josephine pulled the seams on her polyester pants straight. She thought it wasn’t right to wear dark clothes that said mourning on a warm day that said Texas summer. Fanning her face and damp underarms, she glanced at her daughter while the undertaker spoke. What Josephine really wanted was to go home and shower.
Cirrhosis took Josephine’s husband to an early grave, but not soon enough, she thought. She loved her husband, “Great guy,” she always said. She meant it despite his gambling debts.
Her daughter’s face colored thirty seconds after Josephine asked, “How much does the funeral usually run?”
My grandfather hijacks every conversation. Maybe World War II was the biggest thing that happened to him. The last time I wanted to borrow money, he told me that when he was nineteen his ship sunk in the Mediterranean. The water was red with blood. Many people were killed. I always thought that he exaggerated, but now I’ve read about that battle. I’m nineteen and I think, maybe if I’d been there, I’d have to keep telling that story about people I’d saved. Swimming, hypothermia, explosions, smoke. Video games, but real. Survivor’s guilt on steroids. Maybe he’s always had P.T.S.D.