The late-October day was sunny and mild. Birds chirped merrily away in the trees, and puffy white clouds floated serenely overhead. Meadow Hanson’s hands were ice cold, clenched in her lap. She stared down at the green grass, at the spot where it met cold, black earth. A pile of dirt dug up, covered with a green cloth out of deference to the grieving. But there was a spot left uncovered, and Meadow focused on it. It was easier than thinking about her future.
When the police had knocked on her door, and told her her husband was dead, she’d denied it. Lysander couldn’t be dead. He was at work, and she would just call him and he would tell the police he was fine. They explained to her again that he was dead, and explained that he’d been shot. Impossible, because the building that housed his business had several layers of security.
But he was. They’d given her his personal effects: his watch, his cell phone, other things. His wedding ring. She closed her eyes against the sadness and the pain, ignored the happy nature sounds around her, and ignored the voice of the minister as he continued on with the graveside service.
A short time later, she dug her fingers into the cold, moist, dark dirt at the side of the grave. Followed by her twin daughters and her son, she leaned forward and dropped the dirt onto the top of Sander’s casket. It landed with a hollow thud. Her children followed suit, another three hollow thuds. As she walked away, she looked at her hand, dirt under her nails, in the creases of her palm and knuckles. This was the last memory she would have of her husband, of her marriage. A memory of burying him. A memory of dirty hands.
Her last memory of him alive was an argument. They’d argued over money, as usual. Sander was so tightfisted with a dollar that it wasn’t even funny. He controlled all of their finances, and she had to all but beg for every dime she spent. He’d been angry that she wanted money to buy the kids some new school clothes. She didn’t understand what the big deal was. They had more than enough money. But Sander always wanted more, and wanted to keep what they did have.
She realized that she was now in charge of their finances. Her finances, she amended in her mind. It was her money now. Her money, her house, her kids, her life. She’d never have a chance to share another intimate moment with her husband. Every decision would be up to her from this point forward, no matter how big or small. But after so many years of Sander being in charge of everything, she had no idea how to do that. Though she’d fought to be included, fought to work with him to discipline the kids or pick her own new car, he’d never let her.
He’d never attend one of the kids school plays, or go on one of their field trips. He’d miss their graduations and their weddings. But would he have gone to those things even if he had lived? She had her doubts about that.
She went through the small reception after the funeral as if on autopilot. She moved around the living and dining rooms of her home, talking with people, thanking them for coming, smiling at memories they shared with her. But what she really wanted to do was hide in her room. She wanted to change out of the black sheath dress and matching heels, put on jeans and a t-shirt, put her hair in a ponytail and clean the house. Or go for a jog. Anything but stand here and listen to people rattle on and on about her husband.
Finally it was over. The house was silent. The kids were with her parents, who’d come in from out of state for the funeral. They’d never approved of her marrying Sander, but they were being very supportive of her and the kids. They’d taken the kids overnight to give Meadow a chance to grieve alone.
She stood with her back against the front door, staring around at her living room. It was time to start the rest of her life. Without her husband.
The Secrets He Kept will be released on January 6, 2013. It will be available as an ebook on Amazon and Smashwords, and as a paperback on Amazon. Mark your calendar so you can pick up your copy!