The sun is bright on this rare clear day in what has been a grey December. The crows on the lawn abide by the silence we are keeping, they peck but do not caw. A cat prowls along the garden fence, silent also because that’s the way with cats. It keeps a respectful distance from the crows.
Yesterday there was separate visiting with separate friends; mine a town away, his down at the game store. Later, there was wine at home with a little television. It’s good, I said, that we are so comfortable doing things without the other. I’d once been in a marriage where that wasn’t allowed. Yes, he said, but the best part of the day is when we are home again together. And I trust this, although I was also once in a marriage where that wasn’t true.
The kettle is on again. I’ll brew feverfew and ephedra, stinging nettle and lemon balm from the wild tangle of weeds we call our garden. He’ll wrinkle his nose when I bring the cup, but drink it, then ask for a cup of proper tea as if it’s a reward he’s earned.
And if he is fevered or clammy or dull, I will say Stay on the couch another day, just to be sure. I will make his rest
a favor to me, so that he can have it.
And on the day after tomorrow, he’ll tell me I really am all better now whether he is or not, and I’ll press my lips against his forehead, hold his hand, check his eyes. And even if there is a fever, or his eyes are dull, I will say Well, if you really think you are, maybe we could do a few things today, but nothing too strenuous, okay? And if there is a fever I will bring out the bills and write the checks while he rests on the couch, so that we can say we’ve gotten something done. I will take the trash out to the curb, which really I could do all the time, though it’s nice that he does it for us. I will vacuum the house even though it disturbs his napping, because so does the dust in the corners. There is only so much quiet, so much rest, that we can bear. On the day after tomorrow, we will have had our fill.
But today my love is sick, and so it’s all soup made with bone broth and time on the couch, piles of tissues and nests of blankets. Both open windows and a fire in the fireplace. Only the sounds of tea kettles and turning pages.
Sarah Einstein is the author of Mot: A Memoir (University of Georgia Press 2015), Remnants of Passion (Shebooks 2014), and numerous essays and short stories. Her work has been awarded a Pushcart Prize, a Best of the Net, and the AWP Prize in Creative Nonfiction. She is currently a PhD candidate in Creative Writing with a secondary specialty in Rhetoric and Composition at Ohio University.