He was awake. He was always awake. He was afraid to close his eyes for fear of hearing her voice.
But he needed to hear it. It was all he had. The lock of hair he had kept in his watch was gone and he was beginning to forget.
Not her. He was starting to forget the exact shade of her eyes, and the way she used to say his name. He hadn't told her, of course. No,
he had had plenty of time. He hadn't been the best of husbands, he knew that. He had been cruel in his neglect, ruthless in his rejection, and unrelenting in his
betrayal. He had never expected to fall in love with "fatty Natty". That awkward and clumsy child had somehow managed to pull him to her despite
his pride. Despite himself. He had been afraid. Afraid what everyone would say if they found out he had fallen in love with her. So he pushed her away. He never
expected to hurt her the way he had that day. He still couldn't believe what had transpired that morning. When he closed his eyes, the memory
would play in distorted fragments of cruel words that could never be taken back, accusations that shreaded the soul, and in the end a violent gesture. He had struck her.
He had never laid hands on a woman before with such violence. But his wife had been capable of many things, including evoking the most powerful emotions he never knew he had.
He remembered how he had pleaded with her to forgive him. In the end, however, his sweet and forgiving wife had not been capable of that he wanted most. She had been so beautiful that morning.
She had worn a yellow dress, the one he liked, but always told her it made her look fat. The only other telltale feature had been the bruise marring the fragile porcelain of her cheek. That was the last
time he had seen her. As she walked away. As she told him how she hated him. As she took off her wedding ring and threw it at him and striking his cheek in turn.She
never looked back. So he had held that ring in his hand and turned and sat down. Then he had buried his face in his hands and ...wept.
He sat up and limped over to the window. It was cold.