When I wake the next morning, I am on the sofa. I have a screaming headache and my eyes are so puffy it looks as though I have been punched. I blow my nose on one of my random scrunched up tissues – the one that feels the least soggy, and I find myself remarkably nonplussed about that entire transaction – and then toss it to the ground, inelegantly. I get up and walk into the kitchen, searching for hydration to start narrowing down the effects of the over-indulgence.
My mobile rings. I answer it.
“Mrs. Scott? It’s John Governor here, from Memorial Care.” It’s the crematorium, I assume ringing back to book a time.
“It’s Miss Summers, actually. But you have reached the right number. I assume you’re calling about Michael. I was his…well, I was his.”
“We are very sorry for your loss, Miss Summers.”
“If it’s all right, we’d like to arrange a time for your – for Michael’s – cremation. I don’t mean to distress you, and am happy to call back at a later time today or tomorrow.”
“No, let‘s do this. It’s ok. It’s not like he has anywhere else pressing to be,” I say, wondering what has freed me to be so crass.
“Yes. Yes, well. Did you know when you were thinking of having the ceremony?”
“No ceremony. Michael was specific about that. Just a simple do.”
“Of course, Miss Summers, absolutely.”
“The sooner the better.” And please stop calling me Miss Summers.
“Right. We can accommodate tomorrow morning? I realize that’s quite early and it may be that you need more time to – “
“Tomorrow morning is fine. What time?”
“Would you like to be here for 10am, and we can proceed?”
“Any family you would like to notify, Miss Summers?”
I sigh, thinking of Michael. The fact is that Michael had no one but me. “He’s an orphan,” I reply. “There’s no one but me.” I will carry the burden of being an everything.
“Of course, Miss Summers. Please do call if there’s anything we can do. We – ”
“Will do. See you tomorrow.” I interrupt him, keen to be done with anything to do with human interaction, and ring off. I wince at the sight of my mobile phone’s wallpaper – Michael and I laughing, my holding the camera phone out at arm’s length to capture a photo of he and I at a concert in London. He still has most of his hair in that photo, the radiation hasn’t robbed him of it yet. He looks young and happy. So do I, with one shoulder of my sundress slipping off of my shoulder.
I sink heavily into a chair. It was part of a kitchen set that he loved. We picked out the chairs and table together. I was grouchy that day, I remember it even though the indignation I had felt shouldered with was no longer remembered. I was grouchy and we bought these chairs that my dead lover now can no longer sit in.