She stares up the stairs. He looks down at her with his cold blue eyes, well, at least they feel cold to her. She wouldn’t even know if his body felt warm. Standing on the landing, he stops, covers his mouth and coughs. His eyes widen, his hand full of blood. It drips from his mouth, slides down his chin and onto his stiff white collar shirt. Isabel stands frozen at the bottom of the stairs.
“Thor,” she manages to whisper.
And then he tumbles down the steep steps his large athletic body limp, blood trailing. Life suddenly moves in slow motion. Somehow she dials 911. Somehow she kneels down over his body. What do you do when someone you hate is lying on the floor bleeding? Isabel wants a flicker of love and hope to course through her veins, but she is numb. She isn’t a monster. She helps. She opens the door for the EMTs. She watches as they wipe away the blood to administer CPR. She is in the ambulance. At the hospital.
She is listening to a doctor. She wonders if she should fall to her knees. She has blood on her hands. She feels like Lady MacBeth. Except Lady Macbeth felt guilt. A blood clot, they tell her, filled his lungs.
"He must have had symptoms, Mrs. Erickson."
"Dr. Erickson-Fink," she wants to correct him with his white coat and sympathetic face.
“I’m sorry. There was nothing we could do.”
Thor and his light eyes and blond hair and broad shoulders is dead. His anger is dead. His silence is dead. His cold unforgiving stares- dead. His late night texting with god knows who- dead. And relief washes over her-- blood still covering her hands and her clothes. Tears flow down her face as she sinks to the ground. A nurse reaches out to comfort her. Isabel cringes. Isabel feels like sin. Isabel feels lightened and guilty. Someone takes her arm, lifts her up.
“Do you want to see him?”
Does she want to see him? She closes her eyes and tries to remember what it was like to love him. She tries to remember when his breath on her neck felt like heaven. Instead her brain shifts to the phrase she’s uttered over and over again in her head all these years, “I wish he would just hit me, and then maybe he’d feel bad.” And now he’s dead and they expect her to view his lifeless body. Hasn’t his body always been lifeless? Or maybe just loveless. She wants to scream and run and tell someone the confused tangled thoughts invading her mind. She puts her hand over her eyes. She knows she looks like grief.
“Do you want to call someone. His parents, perhaps?”
Isabel looks up, wanting to laugh. Thor was alone in America. She used to believe he was alone because his family was heartless. Now she knew that he was heartless. "Was that too dramatic," Isabel wonders. "Does shock bring drama?"
Soon, she is whisked into his hospital room. The room is cold and white. He is cold and white. She sucks in her breath. For a moment Isabel wants to touch him to take her husband in her arms and breath life back into him. He was already almost not her husband anymore. And now, she is a widow.
A nurse interrupts her thoughts. "Mrs. Erickson?"
“Isabel, you can spend as much time as you need dear."
And then what?” This isn’t a movie where people know what to do. Where people have plans. She is unprepared. His body still lies there. “Cover him up!” she wants to scream. “Leave me alone. Leave me alone. Leave me alone!" Thor. I worked so hard to be brave enough to leave you. I almost worked up the courage. Thor, I can’t remember loving you. I want to feel love right now. I want to feel horror that another human being has dropped dead in front of me.
She slumps to the floor again. Isabel doesn’t want to see him again. She wants him to be taken away.
She wants to be alone.
She is totally alone.
She is free.