Silenced by a Widow Maker by James Claffey

December 13, 2012 Comments Off on Silenced by a Widow Maker by James Claffey

It’s a pretty way to die, crushed by the falling limb of a giant eucalyptus tree. The morning started out okay — a hot shower, the gardenia-scented body wash, soaping between her legs, the tickle of flowing water, a popcorn kernel trapped between the front teeth. From the upstairs window, she could see the trees by the path running to the cliffs. Fog misted the window and she drew a happy face, the same way she’d done in her parents’ car when she was a little girl; her hot breath on cold glass. She ran her fingers through her silky hair, still slick with conditioner, and thought how she was still pretty, in an unconventional way.

The buzzer of his flat door didn’t sound right the previous night when she’d pressed the button and held it down. It sizzled, she thought, like there was a loose wire, or something. A lifeguard, he drove a 50s Chevrolet truck with whitewall tires. Fate, he had called it the night they met. Dirty martinis and stuffed olives, an art fundraiser for the local high school. His son would have been a senior had he lived. A flutter rippled through her when he leaned over and asked her what she thought of a small still life of a rum bottle and bag of onions. She was able to read the 120% proof label on the bottle. At least it was “authentic” she told him. They’d sat at the back of the truck that night, their feet dangling, passing a bottle of red wine back and forth. When he kissed her, it was with a feverish intensity. He said he was nervous, years since he’d done this with anyone. His wife left after the accident. Moved to Memphis to be close to her mother. She took the cat, too. That hurt, he said. His son had named it — Mr. Bones. Because it was all “skin and bones,” he added.

The argument had been a bitter one. His drinking, her insistence on condoms, their shared tragedies not allowing them to forgive. She wouldn’t beg him to stay, not ever. “No one’s putting a gun to your head,” she told him. In the shower, her salty tears mixed with hot water, and far in the distance, she could see his son struck by the falling tree-limb, over and over, until there was nothing there but the pale bark of the eucalyptus and the dark feathers of the turkey vultures littering the ground.

© 2012 James Claffey

James Claffey hails from County Westmeath, Ireland, and lives on an avocado ranch in Carpinteria, CA, with his wife, the writer and artist, Maureen Foley, their daughter, Maisie, and Australian cattle-dog, Rua. His work appears in many places, including The New Orleans Review, NAP, Scissor & Spackle, Connotation Press, Gone Lawn, and Press1. His website is at

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