By Ritta M Basu
My dearest Will,
Your e-mail this morning made me smile and cry. Thank you for your kind sympathies about Buck. He’s in the hospital now. The chemo has destroyed his already compromised organ system. It hurts so much not to see him. He’s held me so close in so many ways. I just wish I could touch him, but I don’t dare risk it. I feel certain his wife sticks to the hospital’s visiting hours. Still, I do not want to risk causing them the pain I caused in your first marriage.
Enough of that. Thanks for listening. After 29 years and all the thoughts and feelings we have shared, you know me more completely than anyone. And even though I felt awkward telling you about Buck, I knew you would indulge my honesty and not judge me.
It’s good to hear your bride is doing so well in her new role as CEO. Sounds like you two have settled into a comfortable place in the empty nest. Same is true for me and Mitch. With the kids gone, we have our own routines, often take long walks together and we sometimes even hold hands! How about that? Our marriage has been strengthened by the things we have endured and the things we don’t know. I’m glad I didn’t heed your well-intended advice to dump him long ago. I still wonder if you might have come to me if I’d asked.
I have to get back to work now, but wanted to thank you for your enduring love. I find new ways to love and feel you close every day after all these years. Today I wish we could share that lunch you wrote about, and I could reach across the table and feel the warmth of your hand.
Two days later
Will, I saw in the paper this morning that Buck is gone. He died yesterday. The tears won’t stop. The only image in my mind is he and I lying naked in one another’s arms. It hurts so much, yet I feel so empty. He meant so much to me. We meant so much to one another. I could go to his funeral, but I don’t know if I can bear being the mysterious woman sobbing quietly at the end of the row. I’ll know all the stories and the people who share them, but they will not know who I am. I’m so glad Mitch is out of town, I could never explain all these tears. My sweetheart is gone. How could he understand?
Thanks for listening and loving me. Please hold me in your thoughts. And, please, dear Will, don’t die before we have the chance to make just one true memory.
After more than 20 years in newsrooms and university PR shops, Ritta was looking for an outlet for more creative written expression. Flash fiction quickly became a way to combine her love of concise, clear writing, with inventive expression. In 2010, Ritta launched FewerThan500.com and began to solicit the work of flash fiction writers across the globe. Today she serves as the site’s editor and publisher.