Harry's daughter sent him a text message an hour ago with the instructions on how to heat up the casserole she'd left for him in the refrigerator. For some reason, she felt the need to remind him of the basic things in life. Simple things that he always knew and could do without thinking were always texted to him as if he were some sort of idiot unable to think about how to heat up a plate of tuna noodle casserole without killing himself. Most of the people in his life had started to treat him as if he were a child. Marion had warned him this would happen. She knew as she stared at him through milky eyes that friends and family would soon see her beloved Harry as an fool unable to cope with life without her. She told him how they'd come around and fuss over him like a child and eventually, he'd start to feel like one if he didn't get on with life and start living. Marion had always been frank. It was one of the traits he loved the most about her. When he kissed her the first time outside of The Remarkable Bookshop when she was 16, she'd told him his breath had better be not taste of cigarettes or booze or she'd never kiss him. In the 57 years of touching his lips to hers, he never did.
That kiss had been it for him. Her lips were pillowy soft and taste of Chapstick. She'd been a sophomore when he was a senior at Staples and he'd never noticed her until she started sharing a slice of pizza with her sister, Josephine. They'd come in with their gang of girls. Her hair was always shinier than the other girls. He'd wipe the flour from his hands and smile as he watched her sip her Coke, her laughter mixing with the yeasty smell of Westport Pizzeria. It made him feel warm inside. Years later, when she'd bake rolls for Easter Sunday or make a Saturday night pizza for the kids from scratch, Harry would nuzzle his face into her neck and remember the girl he kissed on Main Street. Kate sent another text. This time, it was a silly cat video. One of hundreds she'd sent over the past few months. He'd made the mistake of laughing at one once and now it was nonstop videos. Marion had wanted the girls to have a pet, but Harry had insisted on keeping their furniture and home free of animal hair and smells. Now, he thought of getting a little dog. Marion had suggested it shortly after the cancer had started to push at her memories and make her cry with regret at not insisting on having a dog.
"A dog will do you good. Give you something to do besides perfect your pesto recipe."
She loved his pesto and his cooking. His mother had taught him how to cook while her mother had taught her how to order out. The casserole in the refrigerator had been a family recipe he'd taught Kate when she was first starting to cook, now she was telling him how to warm it up.
Harry missed Marion. The softness of her voice and the warmness of her words. He missed the way she smiled when he walked in the room and held his hand during the middle of the night when knew he was having a bad dream. The days would stretch to years of nothing without her. The rooms of their home were a comfy sweater that he wrapped himself in as he walked around touching the walls and knickknacks she'd purchased on their travels. HE wanted to taste her cherry Chapstick again, hear her giggle when he pinched her butt like they were newlyweds.