She stood at his closet door. The shirts hung in a straight row like the tasks waiting before her.
Her gaze fell on the expensive dress shirt. Its lustrous, complex gray brought to mind the low-hanging sky on the day his business partner disappeared with all the assets; leaving them with nothing.
As she leaned her head back, her eyes found the thick fisherman’s sweater he liked to wear when they went to the seashore. Holding it to her face, brought back the tears of joy when their first grandaughter was born. Early. Healthy. And with her father’s red hair.
His old jeans hung on a nail on the left. Something electrical ran up her spine. Out of the shower, no shirt; or on the deck stealing a sweet, cool, beer-fragranced kiss. She flushed from the freshness of the memory of the first time she’d tugged & all 5 buttons had opened. Or was it the last time?
Still not finding what she was looking for; she dropped to her knees. She laughed at the mix of what he kept; funny treasures, sentimental trash, masculine life trophys.
Finally, she found them. Dress shoes, never worn. She’d known they were here. She tucked them under her arm and tried to rise from the closet chaos. But her skirt caught on a nail and ripped. As she searched for the spot to come back and tap the nail back into place, something caught her eye.
The box had tumbled open. Inside were a shirt and shorts that well-dressed young men wore back when…and a pair of ragged canvas sneakers.
Her heart stopped.
A work boot, just the one, fell from the box. The smell of the leather and grease stirred painfully in her chest. As she turned it in her hands, the tongue made a sound like crushing paper. She helped the contents out. Two items landed in her lap.
The first, a letter of acceptance from the Ivy League School his father had attended. She’d never known. He’d worked in a grocery store and attended the local college, worked his way up and moved his skills to the money business.
She’d never wanted for anything, since the day they’d met.
Long minutes later, she remembered the second item. Laying the letter aside, she searched for something out of paper and place. Face down on the floor beside her knee, the back only labeled with the date, April 1973. Something stirred again. Her chest heaved. Her eyes filled. Her hand shook as she reached for the curled and tattered print. A photo of her in a sundress and perfect white canvas sneakers. He’d saved it…
Since the day they’d met.