Still in her nightgown, she sat down ignoring the doorbell. Mothers and children with fundraiser tickets or soul savers selling salvation and guilt. It was hot on that Thursday morning in August, even by Texas standards. She fidgeted in the still air. Pushing the buttons of her old RCA console, finding the right one. The picture hesitated, flickered and went black. She cussed, blaming it for Bob Barker’s s departure from ‘The Price Is Right’. ” Game shows stink now.” she grumbled. Beads of sweat like tears moistened her cheek. She wiped them away with her arm tasting the salt. Picking herself up from the chair, she made her way to the freezer door, opened it and stepped into it. Eyes closed as she breathed deep; the frosty mist as dense and frigid as her life.
By 11 am a therapeutic gin and tonic sounded mighty good. After all, she had nowhere to go and nothing to do…
The doorbell rang, “Not again!” She tipped the glass and emptied its contents.. The sipping was done. Walking with purpose to the door, she flung it open with pitched anger, “What now?”
“Melinda?” A gentleman she recognized stood there. “Melinda Lynn?” His stare piercing her soul. “You may not remember me but we went to school together.”
She reached out to him… He felt cold, a respite to the heat. “Bradley!” She ran the empty glass across her forehead.
“Of course I remember you.”
She coaxed him but he stood at the door, “I can’t stay.”
“Why not? please stay a while longer.” She leaned against the door, heat pounding like a heavyweight boxer, “I want you to. I need you to.”
With a weak smile, Bradley said, “I just stopped in to say goodbye.” He lowered his head.
She pleaded, “No, no, don’t leave, where are you going?” He started to turn away, “Wait!” She dropped the glass and ran to her bedroom, rifled through a jewelry box and found a piece of her heart. She ran back and held out his class ring. “I still have it, I’ve never forgotten. Please stay.” She grabbed his icy hand.
He stepped forward and kissed her on the cheek, cold in a moment of a lifetime of heat. He turned away.
As he cleared the steps she asked, “Will you always remember me?”
Fading into the rippling hot Texas sun, Bradley glanced over his shoulder. “Always.”
Melinda picked up the paper from the porch and returned to her chair.
Rolling the rubber band off, she sifted through it. There in the obituaries for Marfa, Texas was this notice; “Bradley Mumsford, age 52 died Wednesday August 6, 2009. Arrangements pending.”
She laid the paper at her feet and turned the television back on. Wheel of Fortune was about to begin. She always liked Pat Sajak.
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