Marigold Letters
A woman left in a man's wake.


Marigolds remind me of sunset, and sunsets ain't no good to go on thinking about. But there they are, your "little gift", waving through my window. Remember the flower box? It's still right there, hanging on that evergreen outside our bedroom window, just outside of my stubby reach. It's blooming well enough, despite my neglect. I have neither the long limbs to reach that box, nor the stomach to lean out that far, nor the inclination to care. I can imagine you caring, imagine you leaning out the window again, your lean frame balanced half-inside, half-out like some crazy stork with a water-can, your whistling work-tune never breaking. I can almost hear it, even now…

Most of the flowers are nice in the afternoons, except the marigolds. You left and forgot to take them, like you forgot to take me. I brought some along with me today, so you can take some of these damn memories with you.

The truck that the quarry job loaned for you hasn't been white in a long time. Its dusty brown seemed like an everlasting, unwashable tan to me, but now the paint is licked black or otherwise curled off completely by the flames. Two of the tires are punched. And you, dead from some random street deal gone moronic.

"Collateral damage". That's what they called it. Some cosmic accident, the breaking of dropped eggs to keep the omelets coming. I don't know if you'd even want to know how it happened. You usually don't like hearing the bad news none, and I can't tell if being personally distressing would outweigh the news being relevant. Maybe you know already. Anyhow, you can read on if you like, you decide.

It was a drug deal. Some two-bit motherfucker was looking for a fix, right now and with the whole five-finger discount. The police said the druggie guy fired a 9mm once while running away. Just a backwards "no-look" wristy shot that went way off course. It traveled a hundred feet or so, came in through your back window as you're driving down Main Street (not fast enough), and the tiny bullet took you in the neck, severing your spine. A one in a whatever-million shot. The probaballistic (sorry) opposite of a miracle.

Well that sent nerve-endings, consequence, and side-effects firing in every direction. Your wheel jerked and the car flipped. Some cat got flattened. Police skidded by with lights going, they found the shooter, they ran your plates, and they found your Emergency Contact. And now here I am, just another third-order piece of collateral debris. May be a good thing that your truck is bust. My hands feel like driving, my shoes feel heavy as lead, and I could crash into just about anything.

"The death of a loved one may be many things, but work is certainly one of them."

One of the funeral directors told me that. I reckon she was just about right. Passwords were compiled, bank accounts tallied, file-cabinet papers peeked at. Mother was called, brother was called, your father was dead, and a couple of your friends were found through email. Even your Facebook page, the white and blue landfill got a treatment. I didn't say nothin' there, cuz you never said nothin' there, but I left Marigolds on the wall, just a digital picture to brighten it some. Everything is so dreary these days.

The suits have all come out in style, some uncles and aunts, some quarry folk, some people we don't know with services to offer, many with a hand out. We weren't no rich folk, and the bills for the lawyer ain't gonna be covered by under-the-mattress cash. What could I do? We hardly covered the funeral. I told them that they could get bent and fucked till Tuesday, and that your secret fortune, whenever I did find it, would be all mine. "Sue me." Darling, you were always the one to smooth me down. Now I'm all cactus spines and venom.

Y'know, for the longest time, even when we were done married, I didn't know if you did love me. You did a lot–you weren't ever lazy–and indirectly it all pointed, all gestured towards love. But you never said nothing until last summer. Our little field trip.

Now I don't know if you knew where you were driving that night, off-roading with no plan was half the fun for you, but you done found the spot of all Godloving spots, where we sunsetted in a field of marigolds, their little interfolding petals blazing like a thousand golden suns beneath an endless sky. We sat on the bed looking out and you leaned over and kissed me and said "I love you". I'll never forget that moment. I wouldn't trade it for a thousand ordinary sweet-nothings said over dinner or just to say it. I think it means more like that, just one perfect, "I love you."

Rest in peace darling,


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