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She'd lost count of the time
and of how far she had walked. Focused as she was on her quarry, her
surroundings were a nebulous backdrop: buildings with three walls,
corridors that stretched as if elastic, streets that stopped and melted
into holes. Inside her head, she was circling but her feet moved
Her throat ached from asking the
question and her heart pinched from
hearing the answer. She had started by asking neighbors, "Have you seen
David?" Then at the emergency and drop-in centers, "Has a David Foster
been brought in?" The answer, with lowered heads and thin smiles, "No
one by that name."
Then she remembered that in his
confusion, her husband might have given
his second name—Joseph—the one he favored as a boy. "Have
you anyone named Joseph Foster here?" she had ventured. "No, have you
tried the police?" Of course she had, first thing.
His wallet was still in the hall drawer
so her husband was without ID.
If she'd had the time to sew a tag with his name, address and phone
number on his clothing, she might have heard by now. Fifty
years earlier, she had done that for their son Kevin.
She was no longer a good shepherd to husband and
son, her lambs at the
two ends of life. Her son had wandered off to Turkey where he worked
creating something ephemeral with computers. Her husband had drifted
into another country, equally unfathomable.
If only David had walked into the
nearby woods like he had last time.
Then, the sight of his red scarf hanging on the fence post had led her
to him. It was his habit now when he got warm to shed his clothes, like
a child running towards the sea hurls off his shirt the quicker to dive
into the water. Even in winter, if you didn't watch him, he dropped his
scarf, gloves, even his shoes leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for the
hungry birds. He Hansel; she a reluctant Gretel.
Had the direction he had gone been
obvious, she could have called in a
posse of neighbors and spread the burden over more shoulders like
pallbearers sharing their onerous load. With help, even she, at
eighty-five and in failing health, could hold up one corner without
Neighbors—few known by name now—assured
her "Probably visiting a
friend." He had none left. Anyone who knew his name from the local
scandal years ago would smirk, "Probably left town with another woman."
As if he would know where to find a woman.
More probably, he was just drifting
along the streets or sleeping
rough, wondering why his wife hadn't made him a lunch as she had for
forty years and if she would join him soon.
Melodie Corrigall is
a Canadian writer whose work has appeared in Blue Lake Review, FreeFall, Six
Minute Magazine, Mouse Tales, Write Place at the Right Time and
Switchback. She has a website at http://www.melodiecorrigall.com
front page image is copyright ©
by Anthony Kitterick, 2012