Denise

Written for Practice



The hospital where Denise worked had sent flowers.
Two of her co-workers even came to the service
One of them was a short, but heavy girl who introduced herself as Margie. She was young, had dark hair and glasses that continually slid down her nose
Causing her to continually push them back up with her index finger
The other was an average sized, middle aged man with slender shoulders, an acne scarred face and beige hair. I didn’t catch his name

Father LaFleur recited a few words from the scriptures
Then he told some stories about Denise as a little girl
The church women stood by stoically. When the Father was done he invited any of us to come up and share stories about Denise and, he looked directly at me

I stood, but hovered above the pew where I had been sitting. I somehow croaked out, “She was a good wife, a devoted mother, as well as a fine cook and housekeeper” I mentioned that if she hadn’t outlived her children they would undoubtedly be here this afternoon to bid her a goodbye too.
My ears were red when I sat back down

Everyone then looked at Margie, that poor young girl – I think they guilted her to say a few words about someone she obviously didn’t really know that well, “We all thought very highly of Denise at St. Anne’s. She always had a smile on her face. We all admired her efficiency.”
She sat down again and stared at her lap

The church women led us in song, robustly belting out a couple of hymns and then the gathering broke up

I slipped Father LaFleur a twenty, “For the orphans,” he shook my hand and muttered something I didn’t understand before hurrying through the door behind the lectern on the Gospel side.

I left through the wide front doors of the sanctuary and walked the two blocks home where I removed my coat and tie; grabbed a bottle of Jack and sat out front on the porch swing where Denise used to rock in the evenings

I watched the sunset, wondering what would happen next.
What else was in store for me?
It was cold when I finally gave up on the porch.
I pushed the front door open and went back inside to watch the eleven o’clock news before I stumbled to bed and stared at the ceiling, above my head, until dawn

Is this what loneliness is, then?