by Brandon Graham

The phone rings.

I know it’s my wife calling before I even look at the caller i.d. She calls everyday at the same time.

The phone keeps ringing. Even though the receiver is right by me, I let it go. On the fifth ring I pick-up and say “Hello.”

“My heart doesn’t feel right,” she tells me. “It keeps racing and I can’t catch my breath. I feel like I might pass out. I just wanted to let you know so when I die you can tell the doctor what was wrong. Also I was thinking you should keep the house when I’m gone; because we have a lot of good friends in the neighborhood. Plus the kids really like their school. Also church is near by and Reverend Chandler is great in a crisis. He’s just great. You will need all the help you can get. There’s a supportive network for you and the kids right where you are. Tell the Reverend I want to be cremated. I liked the eulogy he delivered for that nice old lady with the facial hair. Tell him that; but not the facial hair part. And play that song by the Cranberries. You know the one.
I really think you should keep the house. I am serious about that. Not to mention the burden of trying to find a new home, and put our place on the market and pack and clean and unpack and decorate a new house. You are not great at that stuff. I’m just being honest. That is not your best type of thing. You would already be grief-stricken, of course, and then all that stress piled on top; it would be too much. You would get irritable with the kids. And the kids will need you to be as patient as you can. This sort of tragedy is hardest on the kids.”

She stops talking. But I don’t say anything.

“Well, what do you think?” she asks.

I say “I will take that under advisement. But really, that will be a decision for me and the new wife.”

My wife laughs and says “You’re so funny,” because she thinks I’m kidding and she likes when I make jokes.

I knew she’d laugh. But I’m not kidding. Not at all. I’m dead serious. Not only that, but I don’t think it would be so unbearable if she died. It would be a lot of work. But you know – everyone likes a fresh start now and then. And I think I’m due.

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