is an online magazine of the literary arts.

2 July 2006 | Vol. 6, No. 2

Requiem for Sammy

The day her husband died, her period stopped. It just shut itself off and left her, left the blood building and boiling inside, fermenting into this rage that she could only release at the piano. It wasn't supposed to happen like that; it wasn't supposed to be that easy for her body to betray her, to take itself away and leave her feeling like she was nothing but a bunch of bones trying to make a way through the world. But that's what happened, and she had to convince herself of that fact, the same way she had to convince herself that Sammy was gone.

There was no warning. If there had been, she might have been able to prepare. But if there's anything she's learned, it's that the body doesn't always obey the will. Inside, you could be screaming in anger so hot your eyes burn. Inside, you could be curled up small as a fetus. Inside, you could be clawing at your veins trying to get them to stop pumping sorrow into your lungs. But outside, your body won't move, won't bend, won't even flinch at the slaps you give yourself every morning now to get the tears to flow.

So this is what she decided on the morning she counted exactly three drops of tears in the sink and realized there were less and less each day, though the bruises on her face were getting darker and darker. This is what she decided when she told her body it wasn't going to betray her anymore; she decided she was going to get her blood back, and with every tear, she'd get back more.

Sammy had bought the Yamaha upright for her with whatever money was left after doctors' bills. "You can't take it with you," he joked.

She played him Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C-sharp minor; he said the notes sounded like something between the end of a laugh and the start of a cry. She p