THE PERFECT GROUT LINE
As Manny drives, his rearview mirror reflects an image of a man he doesn’t recognize. There are the deep lines across his forehead, a downward twist of his mouth, and dull eyes that hide any legacy of who he used to be. He longs for Elizabeth; for all she gave him. He chases her memory in photo albums and old love letters. He listens for her voice in the air rushing through his open window. There are moments he thinks this is enough.
Late afternoons, Manny drives out of the city and beyond the expansive lawns of its’ suburbs. Streetlights spread thinner, then vanish and the asphalt road gives way to gravel and pot holes. His first glimpse of the cemetery pines moves him to melancholy. Manny is a widower.
Today, he follows directions written on the back of a grocery receipt. He parks and stands in the road, holding his tool bucket and squinting into the glare. He is alone and the quiet surrounding the house, emphasizes this. A freshly blacktopped driveway rolls out to meet him and Manny glances down at his dirty boots.
He walks the grass along the edge of the driveway and knocks on the front door.
A slim woman opens the door. She holds a paperback in one hand, her index
finger tucked inside; a bookmark.