An Old Man’s Day

Now is not the time for love. She’s only been gone a year. I wear black to mark her death. I visit her grave every week. I cannot bring a woman into this.

She brings me coffee at the café and offers me breakfast, though I never eat. I drink my coffee and read the paper, looking for my wife’s face in the pictures. It’s never there, but I have to look.

I walk through town now and watch the cars on the street. All it would take is a simple mis-step and I’d be done. I’d go to my wife at last and we would be happy.

It’s time to move on, my therapist says. You need to find someone new. But I’m not ready. My apartment is full of her photos. I can’t take them down. They keep me safe.

On the bus, a woman sits next to me. She asks where I’m going. Home, I say. She nods. Me too. We sit silently for awhile before she asks my name. Isaac, I say. She is Miranda.

The sun has fallen now. Streetlamps are hazy in the fog. I walk the last couple of blocks to my apartment and pour myself a glass of wine. I sit and stare at my wife’s face on the wall.

Miss you, I say. I want you back. The silence is heavy here. The apartment grows dim with the night air. I finish my wine and go to bed. At least in my dreams I’m never alone.


She is an ordinary woman. She works a job and comes home to her ordinary home and makes an ordinary meal. Her son is late from practice at the pool and she waits for him while washing dishes. He comes home and they talk about ordinary courtesy. They do not yell or fight, but they talk of ordinary things.

When we were in love, she did all of the ordinary things and I watched her working all of the ordinary hours of the day. At night, we went to bed and had ordinary sex, but it was an obligation. We were married. This was what married people did.

Now we are not a couple anymore. We do not talk or touch. We see each other at our son’s meets and games, but we stay away from each other as best we can. It’s awkward as a broken stool. We balance on the legs left to us and do the best we can. This is an ordinary divorce, only without the ordinary fights.

An ordinary night falls and she goes to her bed and lies there thinking ordinary thoughts. I miss her. It’s that simple, but she has no time for me. Our ordinary lives have gone separate ways and we have nothing left, but ordinary loneliness.

by William L. Alton

William L. Alton was born November 5, 1969 and started writing in the Eighties while incarcerated in a psychiatric prison. Since then his work has appeared in Main Channel Voices, World Audience and Breadcrumb Scabs among others. In 2010, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has published one book titled Heroes of Silence. He earned his both BA and MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon where he continues to live.

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