Off with the blouse. It flutters to the ground like papel picado, like a prayer flag. You could move, you and Bea and Will, to Nepal. After a death, people give you a month, close friends, three. Then they move on, and you are frozen on the wrong side of longing.
In Nepal, you could sit still for a very long time.
It was nothing like a car crash. Inevitable. The disease waited until Eva was a success- ful journalist and mother. It creeped until you and Eva had grown intertwined, the way redwood trees formed fairy rings. How to know who you are without her. She was let- ter-pressed onto your skin. And yet, you never knew how it was to be inside that body, inside that mind. You pick up a low-cut velvet dress. It is too tight to wear, won’t fit over your shoulders, but it feels heavy and soft against your chest.
You are returning from the lab late tonight and start thinking of ways to make it up to Eva. Two months ago, you two gathered around the pregnancy test, pointing at the pink + excitedly. Now the life within her reveals itself, a half moon above her pelvis. You stop by the bookstore to pick her up something. You write in the front cover, next to a drawing of an astronaut, “I am more excited than nervous, and I am very, very nervous.”
Entering the apartment, you stop. Eva leans against the counter in one of your favorite dresses, eyes dancing. Its tightness accentuates her baby bump. You cross the room, setting the book down beside her. “Wow,” you say. Eva kisses you deeply.
“Daddy, what are you doing?” Will stands in doorway, his small form frozen. You turn to him, still in the blouse, a parody of his mother. Will begins to cry.
“No, no, Wallaby, it’s okay.” You pick him up, put him on your lap. He sits, playing with the bow, as you sing to him. He falls asleep, and toddler snot and drool spills onto your chest, all over her shirt. Her scent will fade soon.
But Will is alive, and Eva is dead. You play with his curls, which come to hold your hands.
The next morning, you dress for work. Slacks, white button up, tie. Unremarkable.
Half-unbuttoned, the shirt shows Eva’s neck, collarbone, the crevice between her breasts. She wears no pants, lying on your bed. You sit on her thighs, holding her arms together above her head with one hand. “Listen,” you say, tickling her. She giggles. “Listen, you make me joyful. Stop laughing.” You smile, and she shakes silently. You tickle her harder. “Listen, shhh, now. I am trying to express myself.” She attempts to frown. “I love you, Eva. I love you, I love you, I love—” She climbs on top, pins you down.