What I Want You To Do
by Tony Noland
Her thighs had gone numb from the sitting. Her ears were numb from the words. Her eyes were numb from the world she'd been thrust into.
She'd pretended to cry, then pretended to laugh through the tears. It was what they all expected of her.
What others had expected of her... if there had been a pole star of her life, that was it.
She should have run off and gotten an abortion, given it up for adoption, anything, but she married him instead. Because it was what everyone expected. He was a man, like any other, but in her heart, she'd always wanted more.
After two more kids and the first ten years, the expectations closed in, seemingly for good. The kids grew, grew some more, then left. They went from pleasant to unpleasant to pleasant again. The dogs came, died and were replaced, one after another like shedding, smelly batteries in a transistor radio you couldn't shut off.
They changed houses twice, changed churches once. During thirty four years of marriage, she'd been on top less than a dozen times, seven of them drunken New Years Eves.
The kids were paying for the funeral. She's wanted him quietly cremated, lied and said it was his dearest wish to be scattered in Acadia National Park. She'd always wanted to go there, suggested it for a honeymoon. Climb Cadillac Mountain, take a week to do it if need be. Smell the ocean, hear the gulls, feel the cold wind on her face, see the dawning sunrise explode over the Atlantic.
But he wouldn't hear of it, not thirty four years ago, not for their tenth, twentieth or thirtieth anniversary. Why should he waste money so he could get his ass chewed by mosquitoes, and in some Maine hellhole for fuck's sake, that's what he wanted to know.
The kids split the cost of the big bronze casket three ways. She shed her tears and told everyone she needed to save every penny, that there just wasn't much. They all nodded understandingly and she was grimly happy to let them live with their own expectations.
Her fingers had gone numb from gripping her cane. Her heart was numb from thirty four years.
Ninety days. She would wait ninety days before booking the flight to Bangor. She would wait for a while.
It was what they would expect.
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