nga Lulian KODRA

“You’re not staying in a hotel room,” said my brother at some point during the funeral service. “We’ll set you guys up in mom’s bedroom.”
“Now they’re both gone, I guess it’s ‘mom-and-dad’s-bedroom’ again,” I said. He shrugged. Truth be told, now they’re both gone the house was his, so it could become ‘the guest bedroom’ for all I knew.

“Whatever,” he said. “Anyway, talk it with Laura, of course. I’d imagine it would be weird for her – and for you, too – but you know the couch; it won’t fit one person let alone you both.”

“I don’t mind,” says Laura.

Though fresh, pillow and cover smell like mom. It’s not surprising there’s not a whiff of dad – not after six years – but she is here still.

The bedroom is as dark as a tomb but for a radio clock that projects the time in red electronic numbers on a corner of the ceiling – a torturous feature she must have set up to count the minutes, so as not to have to dream her own death perhaps.
“I never dreamt her death,” I say to Laura, both of us too tired to sleep after a long day full of inconsolable relatives.

I’d had three dreams of my father dying before it actually happened, but never of my mother. In thirty-two years, not once, not even after the doctors said that there was no hope.

My mother was always morbid – way before her cancer, way before her widow years, way back in my childhood, before my brother was born, when Comet Halley loomed across the starry sky outside my bedroom window and I used to crawl into my parents’ bed, she told me one night, very seriously, that she was going to die.

“Mommy was joking” she said when I began to cry, taking me into her arms. My face – hot and wet – buried over her breast, my fingers clinging to her nightgown, shaking; at that moment I imagined for the first time, and with as fair of an amount of accuracy as it can be imagined, then and ever, all the details of leaving my mother’s womb.

“How can you dream the death of someone who lifts it from the most inaccessible depths of your imagination like that? Maybe if I had I would have been able to cry today.”

The wails of a cat or fox right under the windowpane sound as if the animal is going into labor, but the red electronic numbers on the ceiling tell us that it doesn’t last longer then a minute.

“It’s her fault I didn’t.”

“Your logic is warped even though it makes sense somehow,” says Laura. “Anyway, you did cry.”

She hugs me and buries her face and her compassionate kisses between my chest and neck; she throws a leg over mine and presses her soft underbelly against my thigh. We fuck quietly, with no climax, and after it’s finished we hear loud and clear my brother or my brother’s wife get up and use the bathroom.

The house is silent again. The red electronic numbers all change to mark a new hour of the night. I try to guess how old I will be when Comet Halley comes around again. Then dreamless, sleep comes like death.

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