Soon the aroma of cheese and sauce overtakes that of flowers and trees, and since he has no open table on which to put his plate he reclaims the spot on the couch and eats all of his meal while watching half of a bowl game.  Once again he’s intrigued (April 29) by the gifts, puts his plate on the end table, and shifts to the floor.  Beginning with the smallest box, cufflinks are first, and he wishes he’d have opened these before the funeral. Next is an oversized blue Red Sox hoodie that he puts on right way, as if she knew that he hadn’t yet built a fire.  Crumpled paper, adorned with the omnipresent (July 15) likenesses of jolly old St. Nicholas and Rudolph, is tossed to his left, awaiting the impending (April 15) fire.  Climbing back up to his feet, a chore that requires steadying himself on sleeping legs, he scoops through the discarded wrapping and hidden at the bottom of the pile is a shiny gold gift bag. Beneath tissue paper that flowed out of the bag was a page-a-day, A-to-Z calendar.  Smiling, he remembers their many conversations about vocabulary – hers as an English Lit professor and lover of Austen was at times flowery, and his as a firefighter and hater of tragedy was often blue – and this must have been her way of getting back at him.

copyright 2012 Steven Harz

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