"Morning, my love." My voice is lilting, and floats on the spring-scented breeze, as I bustle around the kitchen, not bothering to turn, as you take your place at the table.
The curtains, thrown wide to welcome the rising sun, are quivering in the gentle wind, and I glance outside, "It's warming up already, this afternoon's sure to be beautiful. Do you think we could go out and start the garden, later? It's a little early in the season, but it's bound to be a lovely day." I ask you, eyes smiling as I take in the dew-speckled grass, glittering in the early sun just beyond the window pane.
I nod to myself, "Yes, yes. I bought the seeds a week or so, ago. Evie had a sale on at her shop, you know. I got all your favorites, dear. Snapdragons, Sweet Peas, Impatiens and Schizanthus. It'll be just beautiful."
I pull my gaze from the window, and saunter over to the coffeemaker, mood lifted by the weather, and prospect of spending the day outdoors, enjoying it. As the coffee heats, I pull our two mugs from the cupboard, and examine yours. It's the white china one, with the sparrows painted in blue. The only piece remaining from the set your mother gave us for our twentieth anniversary. There's the small chip in the rim, which you always have to turn away from your mouth before you take a sip. "Don't you think we should get rid of this old thing? It's not even a set anymore." I ponder, half to you, half to myself. There's a slight laugh in my voice, both of us know that you'd never throw it away, "Yes, it is your favorite, you should keep it. So long as your coffee's not dripping out the bottom, I suppose."
I slide the pot from the element, the deep brown liquid finally brought to a simmer. "Two sugars, one cream?"
I don't even need your answer. "Yes, dear." It's always the same. Has been for the fifty-two years we've been married.
I smile to myself, spoon on the side of your mug making a tinkling musical sound, as the cream stains the dark coffee a light beige. One of our warm mugs in each of my hands, I turn to you, smile growing as I walk to my chair, opposite yours. "Drink up, dear. The morning's just begun." I say, placing your coffee in front of you, and palm smoothing the wrinkles in my floral skirt as I take my seat.
I let the hot liquid warm my mouth, the now sweetened concoction coating my throat, as I quickly down my coffee. With a sigh, I stand from my chair, and place my cup on the counter by the sink. My fingers play along the tips of the pens, assorted colors jammed into one cup, placed on the window sill, "Which color shall I use today, George?" My fingers land on the red permanent marker. The one I always use, and I pluck it out, "Good choice."
My lips turn up in a sad smile when I glance in your direction, and notice your coffee is untouched. It's a wistful look, and I urge my eye not to mist up as I whisper about what a pity it is that we can no longer greet the morning together. It wasn't always this way. Your figure, sitting tall with that boyish grin on your face used to fill that spot, but all I see when I look over to your chair, now, is the empty wall behind it. Your coffee, like every other morning I go through this, will sit at the table, as if someone would be arriving to drink it at any moment. It will congeal, cream gathering on the top, until I finally dump it out around lunch time. Maybe, then you will join me in the garden, screen door opening, and you shielding your eyes against the sun. You'll sit down in the lawn chair, watching me tend the weeds, and I'll ask you where to put the snapdragons, and if you're enjoying the weather.
I turn, now, to the calendar on the wall beside the window, the one facing the garden, soon to be alive with color. With a flourish of my hand, I mark another garish red X. June 28th. I don't need to count, I've already memorized the number of days in my head. Today is the 1187th day that I've spent without you. "Take your time finishing that, dear." I nod in your direction, as I grab the flower seeds from the window sill and turn towards the door. Maybe I'll cut the Schizanthus and bring them to your grave once they bloom, the purple ones were always your favorite.