Coney Island (Story by Risa Peris)

Morris died ten years ago. Dolores was holding on. She had a dog. A poodle with cloudy eyes that bumped into the furniture on the way to lunch in her white doggy dish. Dolores, who had hazy vision, was barely aware of her dog, Dizzy, who kept running into obstacles. All Dolores knew was that the poor dog wasn’t as quick as she used to be getting to the food dish.

“Dizzy, where are you?” Dolores wandered around her one bedroom apartment in a senior center looking for Dizzy. When she could finally see her, nose dripping and saliva glopping, she picked up her dog and carried her to the kitchen where the dish was. Dizzy ate slowly and gratefully.

Dolores relied on an elderly worker for her bath and cleaning. She also needed help sorting out her meds. The worker was black. Not overly dark. Maybe pecan colored. Dolores didn’t like that. She wasn’t racist. It was just that Morris had a taste for dark skinned girls. He cheated on her three times when they lived in Alabama. Each time it was some black girl with a burnished sheen to her skin and hips that curved like a heart. When they laid Morris to rest Dolores wouldn’t speak at the funeral. Her children encouraged her but she refused. What would she say? There lies Morris, may he have all the black girls he desired in heaven. Dolores didn’t really hope for that. She hoped Morris got nothing until she died and then she would pester him for eternity. An afterlife revenge.

The worker showed up at twelve. Her name was Tisha. Her lips were glossy. She rummaged in the kitchen and made a shopping list. She took Dizzy for a walk. She bathed Dolores and did the laundry. Dolores sat in her chair, a cracked leather one, and watched Criminal Minds. Tisha served Dolores lunch. Tuna salad, a sliced tomato, a small pear, juice. She gave Dolores her meds. She placed a small plastic container on the table. The night meds.

“Anything else, my dear?” asked Tisha with a wide smile showing perfectly straight teeth.

“Would you have made love to my Morris?” asked Dolores in a haze of meds and raw feelings from a dream she had.

Dizzy jumped into her lap and curled near her sagging breasts.

Tisha smiled. “You ask such crazy questions, Dolores. I’m quite sure I would have let Morris alone. See you tomorrow.” Tisha put on her coat and scarf, a blazing blue one, and left. Dolores stared at the TV.

Dolores decided she wanted nothing to do with Morris in her death. He would be one place and she would be another place. Separate rooms. Like it was during the whole of their marriage. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in front of a huge crowd but stopped kissing five years into the marriage. Nobody knew. The babies were already born. What difference did it make?

Dolores focused on Criminal Minds and delighted in thinking of Morris dying a brutal death from a serial killer instead of stupid cancer that made her life as miserable as his.

Love is not forever. It blossoms in moments and her mind wandered to the moment in Coney Island when she first kissed Morris and loved him. Dizzy grumbled and passed gas but Dolores was lost in a jumble of memory as well as love and hate.


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