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The Widow's Grass
The boy was uncertain and delightfully giddy as he sat and drank lemonade in the slanted kitchen light. The afternoon had grown quiet. It was summer and the inside of her house was very cool and still. He wasn't able to look at her body but it's gauzed presence was never out of his awareness. He could sense the vibrations of every molecule of her flesh through the thin white robe that had signaled the beginning of this crashing breathless fulfillment.
She had watched him all summer long. Watched the death of childhood move beneath his skin as he pushed the mower through the heavy summer afternoons. She tried not to notice him at first, but after a while she lived each elation and defeat along with him. Cars, dates... to turn sixteen: the truth of these beamed out from his spindly limbs and straw white hair. The drone of the lawn mower became a secret anticipation for them both. The boyish fantasies became palpable, possible, when finally, he would push the mower past Mr. Ranier's field to the butter yellow house at the end of the block. His every sense was rarefied when he cut her lawn.
He knew that, somehow, it was not just fabrication that she, perched on the edge of the bed, watched him through the upstairs window as he worked. He had never seen her but doubtless she was there.
His friends had all been merciless when it became known that he would cut "The widow's" grass. She had been the object of much surmise since arriving some seven months before. All they really knew of her was what her age and appearance presented and what the label "widow" implied. The precipitate of these states fueled many heated longings both private and public.
It had been three years since her husband had died. And she had yet to know a morning without the realization that he would not be coming back. Not every day was bad but no day was free from wish or remembrance. She had moved here hoping to start new, hoping that this house and this town could offer up a morning that was only hers.
The afternoon light revealed her body; separating its outline from her robe. He
had just gotten used to talking to her when she stood suddenly and took him
by the hand. He hoped he knew what he knew. He hoped that it would
happen; that it was real. He became suddenly afraid. His eyes betrayed him.
She bent and lightly kissed him. His lips were salty and very soft. He hoped he wasn't about to pass out.
"Come upstairs, I have something to show you."
He walked the eternity of stairs and hall. She leaned on the bathroom sink and waited for him. When, finally, she opened her robe to him her body was beyond his ability to understand. He had imagined this many times over the summer, grafting her onto the face and figure of the girls in his brother's magazines, but the fact of it, the fact of her body, a woman's body full of the beauty of age and experience, staggered him.
She held his light-boned body like a bird, his heart fluttering next to her breast, and eased him inside of her. After years of congress with her husband, she could barely feel the boy. It made it easier.
As they lay in bed after, she felt his new body cooling and drying in her arms, gaining strength and weight. The wake of his leaving washed over her, lapped at her, loosed her tears.
Long after the boy she would find a morning free from the encumbrance of
memory, but the sadness of leavings never wholly left her.
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