"Oh, honey," is what I want to say. I want somebody to say "oh, honey, I know, I know," to her, and pat her on the back, and bring her a cup of tea. I want someone to hand her a tissue, and I want someone to take her to the movies, and I want someone to understand her as well as I do.
I don't want her to be falling asleep with the radio on, shows she doesn't even like, just because she can't fill up the house with only her own voice. I don't want her to be eating one solitary, unwinking egg, dinner after lunch after breakfast after dinner, just because washing up more than that one pan and that one plate and that one fork is too much for her to handle. I don't want her refrigerator to have only eggs and milk on the verge of turning in it, but I also don't want her to be driving to the next town over to do her grocery shopping, just because she can't face one more too-familiar face screwed up into that "I don't know what to say" grimace. I don't want any of that.
I don't want her to be sitting there, striking matches, just for their sweet sharp sulfurous smell, or lighting one of the cigarettes left in the pack just to watch the lazy arabesques of the smoke as it rises. I don't want her to be setting two places out of habit, and then standing there, staring at the other place. And yet I don't want her to wearily put that other plate and napkin away, either.
I don't want her to stand over the phone as it rings, and then snatch for it just as it stops. I don't want to hear her say "Nothing. I'm fine." to the person on the line, or "Tuesday's not good for me. Wednesday — no, not Wednesday either; maybe next week." I don't want her to pick up the receiver and then put it down again, realizing that there's no number to call.
I don't want her to fold the laundry and then, crying, dump it all back in the basket, furiously unmatching those socks. I don't want her to hang up that coat and then throw it over the back of the chair again, or to move those boots from the doorway to the closet and back, over and over.
I don't want her to pick up the book that was on the arm of the chair, and read the right-hand page over and over again. I don't want her to flip the calendar back to May again.
I don't want her to sit there with that watch pressed against her ear, listening to the ticking. I don't want her turning that lucky piece over and over in her hands.
I don't want her to pass by me in the closet, reaching for that black cotton shirtdress again. I don't want her to jerk her comb through her hair, not even looking in the mirror. I don't want her not to notice that she's wearing two different shoes. I don't want her to notice that other people have.
I don't want her to be so bereft. I don't like that there's nothing I can do. And I especially don't like knowing that there's nothing anyone can do.
I want there to be something to do.