Another night you can’t sleep, the hot flashes coming faster than the passes your husband made during the days of your courtship. But you know it wasn’t the hot flashes that woke you.
You strip the bed of its sheets, slip off your sweat-drenched nightgown, and stroll naked through the creaky house. You trail your finger along the wall as you make your way down the stairs to the living room—maybe it should be called the deading room—knowing exactly where you’ll find your husband and an ounce of the satisfaction he once provided.
You light your favorite incense, Moonlight Jasmine, which smells like it’s still on the vine. It cursives the air, struggling to hang on to existence. You open dusty shutters, light spilling across the room in soft moans. You curl up at one end of the Victorian settee upholstered in wine-rich velvet and moon-face your handsome husband at the other end.
You had his skeleton re-articulated from the bones you fished out of his urn after you told the crematorium you wanted him done medium rare. But it’s not enough to sit next to the foundation of the man who provided yours. You’re like a house missing a few rooms since his sudden death twelve years ago.
You dislodge his thigh bone and slip it inside you. This is the only solace you find, the only sleep aid that seems to work—the only way to feel whole.
Kim Steutermann Rogers spent a month in Alaska as a fellow at Storyknife Writers Retreat in 2016 and, again, in 2021. She was recognized for “Notable Travel Writing 2019” in Best American Travel Writing. Her science journalism has been published in National Geographic, Audubon, and Smithsonian; and her prose in Atticus Review, Bending Genres, Hawaii Pacific Review, and elsewhere. She lives with her husband and dog in Hawaii. Read more of her work at kimsrogers.com and follow her on social media at @kimsrogers.
Art by Dave Gregory