Gerard remembers receiving an aluminum foil in the mail, some ashes of his wife. It was all he could afford.
GERARD REMEMBERS A RINGING SOUND VIBRATING THROUGH HIS EARS AND SOUL.
Gerard visits a cemetery every third of the every month to place flowers on his wife’s grave. When the angels remember, these flowers pulled up into the mesosphere by golden, apotheosistic threads. When the angels forget, the flowers are beaten into the ground by wind and water.
SHE DIED OF CANCER.
Though weak from symptoms and treatment, her body looked like the love of his life until the end. This was because her soul belonged to Gerard, which Gerard never wanted but it was given willingly, anyway.
They had perfect maps of each others’ souls. She will soon pass on, and Gerard will have to find a filing cabinet large enough to store all the maps Gerard has that he will never have to use again.
IF GERARD IS LUCKY, GERARD WILL BE UNABLE TO FIND ANY SUCH FILING CABINET. IF GERARD IS UNLUCKY, THE SAME.
Gerard still wakes up every day and reenacts the same six-year old routine. Gerard climbs out of bed, makes silently down the stairs, and pours a glass of water for his wife. Gerard makes back up to give this glass of water to an empty side of the bed, which is perfectly made.
Gerard puts his hands into his arms, less frequently now than before, but some nonetheless.
WHEN SHE DIED, SHE LOOKED AS IF SHE HAD THOUGHT ABOUT HIM EVERY DAY FOR A VERY LONG TIME.
She kissed Gerard softly, lips to lips, before she died. She turned her face toward him and smiled and closed her eyes. Color and sound seemed to drain from the room. The life monitor’s whine seemed miles and miles away. A silvery substance poured out of her. From her eyes, her mouth, her pores, her womb. It flowed past Gerard and splashed onto the floor. It pooled around her bed.
The torrent subsided. It had flowed around the tears Gerard marked on his wife’s arm. They formed the shape of a starling, a light white mark on her flawless arm.
GERARD LEAVES THE HOSPITAL AND CONTINUES HIS LIFE.
It seems like a different life entirely. But he embraces it with closed eyes, arms to his side. It is not the most glamorous superpower, to beat back your fears and doubts and live not for one but for two. To carry your head high because she would want you to. But it is a superpower nonetheless.