He packs boxes some mornings.  Some mornings he lays in bed until after eleven, but never until noon.  She would never let him lay in bed until noon.  Yesterday he poured water in the coffee pot, coffee grounds in the coffee filter, and hot coffee across the kitchen counter, the lower cabinets, and the linoleum floor.  He packed the coffee maker in a box with the coffee pot and the rest of the paper filters.  She would always make the coffee.  The day before yesterday he put on his undershirt, his watch, his wedding band, and her wedding band, the red bracelets she would wear during the holidays, the dolphin necklace he bought for her on their first trip to Jamaica, and he treated himself to dinner at an Italian restaurant.  She would never wear jewelry in the house.  He packed a box full of jewelry cushioned with rolls of small socks and sweaters.  He packed a box full of shampoos and scented lotions.  The day before that he taped together the bottom of a cardboard box.  The day before that her body was burned in one.  This morning he packs a large box with smaller boxes from under the bed.  He packs boxes of greeting cards, wrapping paper, and colored plastic bows.  She would always wrap the gifts.  He unpacks a box filled with tissue paper and an unworn hat.  She would never wear this hat.  He packs boxes some mornings.  Some mornings he does something just for himself, something she would laugh about.  He smiles at pictures of her.  This morning he smiles at me, some time before noon.

Story by Christopher Notarnicola


I always knew you as Chester… Though I don’t know why anyone called you that even to this day. I found out when I was much older and you had moved away that your actual name was Irvine. I still call you Chester though, there is some intrinsic entertainment in just saying that name – and you were an entertainer! Regaling my father with stories that I seldom took meaning from; but I still laughed along when the moment was right. We would come over and have a look at all the different tasks you had on the go in your garage/wood working shop that was across the alley from us. And Chester I could never formulate the proper way of saying to you that you performed each arduous and intricate task with such a deft hand that it was awe inspiring, I still hope someday to possess that passion and skill.

It was probably about 20 years ago now that you came over with a birthday gift that you crafted for me. It performed magic! A rectangular device that you put a $2 Canadian bill inside for me behind one elastic fabric strap that was set across the middle of the contraption and on the opposite and empty side there were two straps across the top and bottom.  The outside glimmered green with some kind of laminated foil which added to the magic as I would open and close it end to end twice over and the $2 bill would some how jump over to the opposite side. With some shame I admit that I still don’t understand how it works. Even more shamefully I confess that I squandered $2 on candy about a month later and never replaced it. Though in a box of keepsakes I still have that magical wooden teleportation device so it’s not too late.

Thank you Chester, you were a good neighbor.

Story by Mark de Biesen

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