She drew her breath in slowly, closing her eyes to the evening light that fought to remain in the open air of the living room. She listened as her indrawn air filled her chest and seeped out of her in stuttering puffs. The grandmother clock in the hall ticked rhythmically taking on a loudness in the looming silence; the house creaked and popped sharply in the heat of the waning day, registering its complaints to no one in particular. Gradually she opened her eyes.
The fading light streamed through, bathing her in its soft caress. The dust motes swirled and dipped in the golden rays, bandied about by her breath - in and out, in and out, just as she had watched his breath come and go in those last days. In and out, just keep breathing she had prayed, please just keep breathing. Until he didn't.
Until he died.
Tears stung at her eyes again. Here in the silence she let them fall. She didn't stop the flow, pat at her mascara, smile that insipid smile she had recently adopted. She just let them fall, course down her cheeks and drip off her chin to her chest where they ran tiny rivulets into her shapeless navy shift.
She looked around the room, devoid of furniture, the wood of the floor glowing a burnt umber in the sunset. Gone was the hospital bed, the monitors, the tubes, wires and bags of fluids. Gone was the form wasting away under layers of blankets that held no warmth. Gone was the symphony of sound that marked his presence and then his passing. She stared into that beam of sunlight and could almost see him there, faded and blurred against the tears.
She reached into the ray and swirled the motes with her hand gently, just as she had touched him during those final moments.
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All of it was gone. There was only her now. She turned toward the doorway and stepped onto the porch as the last of the days light slid below the horizon. She wrapped her arms around herself and drug the night air into her lungs. The light around the place the sun had sunk on the skyline glowed pink and violet, celebrating one last favorite of his as it disappeared with a flicker.
The finality of it was done, marked by darkness and the slow dawning of stars in the azure sky. She would move on in the morning, make decisions and plans, trod the new path of her life without him, but tonight, right now - She would savor the last of it.
She sank to the steps of the porch and leaned her head on the pillar, gazing into the darkening heavens around her. Each star that appeared, shining forth its light gave her heart a pin prick of hope. Even in the stark sunlight of the brightest day she couldn't see the stars in their gentle placement. It was only in the blackness that they gleamed forth. The darkness would allow her to regroup, gather herself gently to her purpose, feed her soul the comfort of silence…