Driving home, Molly zigzagged past remnants of her day then purged lists of things to do and buy, unaware of the traffic, the familiar turns, humming the melody as Vince Gill sang softly from the car’s speakers. At the stoplight, she turned onto Hampton Street and lifted her hand to shield the afternoon sun. From the wavering tentacles above the long blistering stretch of asphalt, a distant human form, small and transitory, materialized. The quivering specter grew larger, sharper. It was Coach.
“Don’t look,” she whispered. But she did. And in that snapshot moment, the man’s heart exploded and his body seemed to evaporate as his clothes dropped into a heap—that quickly, that unconditionally, down to the ground.
When her husband walked in from work he heard the rising inflection of Molly’s voice. “What?” Joe said. “What did you say?”
She sat alone in the pale kitchen light, near the window. “I wasn’t talking,” she said.
“Okay,” he said. He stood in the doorway holding up the day’s mail.
“Could we have a beer?” she said.
Joe tilted his head. “Well, hello,” he said. He held the pose. “You bet. And it’s not even Sunday night.”
“Well, you know,” she said, finding her footing. “Harrison—.”
Sunday nights, after putting their young son to bed, Molly and Joe drank a beer or two. Sunday night was their designated together time. But Harrison was away now on a fishing trip with his grandfather.
“Two cold ones,” Joe said into the refrigerator.
She looked away. “Something happened,” Molly began.
“What?” He turned. Gently, deliberately, he set a carton of milk on the counter. “What happened?” He pushed his chair close. “Harrison?”
“No,” she said.
She described pulling over and rushing to Coach, recounted her fear that he might already be dead. The EMS. The sirens and the rush to the hospital. She thought but did not say: I took his head into my arms. She didn’t say: There was more intimacy in that minute than in every minute I’ve ever spent with you.
“Can we have another?” she said, lifting her empty glass.
“Sure,” he whispered, rising slowly from the table.
The two drank, and after a time she described again what she had witnessed, repeating it nearly word for word while the yellow evening light sank into blackness, slowly then all at once, like an exhausted swimmer’s drowning. She couldn’t stop telling it. Every sentence ended like a question. Then again she came to the end.
Their son was gone. The house was silent.
“No more beer,” Joe announced. He turned to his wife. Neither spoke. Her eyes conveyed nothing.
“I’ll take you out,” he said. “We should get out more,” he said, “just the two of us.” Joe touched her hair. “Let’s have one more. Let’s do go,” he said. “Then we’ll come home. We’ll call Harrison.”