No amount of scrubbing could erase his smells--the savor of garlic in the frying pan, the china’s nostalgia for long past feasts--pork wrapped in luau leaves, fried wings of angel fish, snow peas like bright green eyelids dozing in a creamy sauce. On the wall, the knives still rang with chopping, the cutting board worn to his use. Layer by layer, he had peeled her down, his sharp tongue slicing to the bone.
She ate his words. The tastes of love. Mary, she tasted, Emma, Pili, Mai. Tucked among the recipes, on scented letters in his desk, upon his lips, his hands which proferred dainties. Eat, he said, why don’t you eat.
No, she told the ambulance men, she had not dialed 911; she was in the parlor, darning socks. They found him on the kitchen floor, face down in a pool of grease. The receiver dangled from the wall. Hello, it called, be calm don’t move, we’re sending help.
Afterward, she darned for weeks--worn socks, split knees, holey bvds; she went through every garment that he’d worn and stitched up all the openings. I’m mending, she said to those who telephoned their sympathies or dropped by with food she didn’t eat.
Sylvia Watanabe is a fiction writer and graphic artist who teaches on the Creative Writing faculty at Oberlin College. She is from Hawaii.