The wall clock stopped at 4:27, minutes before something was about to happen. It’s stuck that way, like a child’s hands wanting to touch a forbidden heirloom, frozen in the moment before.
She lies in bed below it, no longer thinking that the cold linoleum stings her sore feet when she stands. The window she faces, in sharp locked squares, crops the sky into stills of eternal overcast, alternating evening and night. Cars passing on the state highway crescendo and fade. Sometimes the phone still rings.
The nurse comes, rolls her on her side to change the sheets. She knows there’s something like blood without looking, but the woman is kind and cleans her anonymously, not mentioning anything beyond her control. A crow flies by. It’s cold outside, she says.
Any minute now, he’ll be home, stripping off his greasy overalls, kicking off his boots in the mud room, showering. Will it have been a bad day or good? The weather couldn’t always tell. But if the soft-harsh clouds parted outside the window, even for a second she was hopeful.
She speaks to her while bags drain on the pole. Supposed to snow, she says, gonna be the worst in thirty years, they say. Outside a siren whizzes by. The sun invisibly sets and rises. The nurse leaves and arrives, her tires crunching gravel beneath the window.
Won’t be long, his morning alarm will rouse them both, like plants in a pot sharing water. From the sagging mattress’s center, their limbs will unentangle. She coughs and something falls from her mouth in the dark.
Tomorrow, the nurse strokes her light grey hair, tells her about her children. She never asks about her husband. The shadows have been lengthening forever, and outside the snow falls until it shows on the sill. Three minutes she’ll be waiting for the horror of her love to arrive or leave, the normal glory each day has in store withheld between chimes, whether stubborn or barren.
When they continue, the heavy-dark cobwebs will fall. She’ll touch the kitchen again. Until then, wind roars over the eves. Drifts sharpen their sharkfin edges. A nurse stares into the dark flurry, worrying.