STORIES: Leaving

"Does this mean," he said, "that you’re not going to die?"

In just that way he asked, and in that same way, she answered.

"Not from this, I guess."

He hadn’t stopped his coming home from work ritual while he nodded in greeting to her and asked her what the doctor’s call this afternoon had told her.  He set his briefcase on the sideboard in the large kitchen that bloomed in the early evening sun in rich gleaming cherry and navy blue warmth.  He was unaffected, had not allowed himself the last few weeks to get involved in it again.  He was immune now to its invitation, the scent of cinnamon from bowls she freshened every day, even when she was too weakened by the pain to sit upright at the kitchen table.  He took his jacket off, hung it on the back of a chair, loosened his tie with one hand as he shuffled through the mail on the sideboard with the other.

"That’s great news," he said and stopped to look at her and smile.  Now he could go back to leaving her.

(Note:  Trying to learn from Crawford Kilian’s fine instruction.  The last paragraph was formed  as "…he said, and meant it."  The narrator would not really know if the husband "meant" it, or was sincere.  He, as the reader too, must decide for himself by the fact that he "stopped to look at her and smile.")

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