“Love Story” by Rachel Kadish appeared in NER 28.2 (2007).
No friends attended the funeral. The gathering was limited to the children, their spouses, Milton’s two infant grandsons, and Dorothy, whose reddened eyes were almost handsome against her primly buttoned black dress. That afternoon the attorney informed the children, with an admirably blank expression, that the house and funds had been left to Dorothy. The children received nothing.
They sorted his possessions. Dorothy volunteered to do it but the children were unanimous in their refusal. This was, after all, the apartment where they had grown up. They were, after all, now orphans. The three knelt on worn cushions and, complaining of balky knees, bent brown-gray heads together over the shoeboxed remains of their grade-school careers. By turns prickly and obliging, they took shifts sifting the slim leavings of their parents’ lives. In their father’s dresser drawer the younger son found a loose stack of unfolded pages dense with a plump handwriting he recognized from Dorothy’s grocery lists. After reading aloud the salutation the son could not bear to continue so handed them to his wife, who read half the small sheaf before handing them back with a rueful laugh and the report that Dorothy’s letters were chock-full of impetuous vows and misspelled poems. The wife had stopped reading at the poem that ended I tern up all my flowers in your hands. The son sneaked the pages into Dorothy’s dresser and left them there.[read the story in full]