Who She Was Remains
by Ken Leland
Who She Was Remains
by Ken Leland
‘Who She Was Remains’ is a short story set in a fictional, small Indiana community, in the present day. This is the fifth in a series of published stories with this setting; the first two are available on this website and are entitled, ‘Buying a Stone’ and ‘She and I.’ To no one’s surprise, the village bears certain similarities to the author’s home.
‘Who She Was Remains’ appears in the Prolific Press publication Unwanted Visitors, along with a number of fine short stories and poems by other writers. It is the author’s hope that the following excerpt will tweak the reader’s interest sufficiently to buy a copy of Unwanted Visitors, or perhaps to suggest the local library consider buying the anthology.
Prolific Press, Inwood Indiana, ‘Unwanted Visitors’
EXCERPT from 'Who She Was Remains'
My wife Eileen already knows the loss I feel, and knowing, she is hurt and a little angry with me. Still, we agree it’s been far too long since I traveled home. Karen’s death has tipped the balance in favor of a visit.
In Seattle’s airport lounge, Eileen sits with arms folded, knees crossed, one foot bobbing in the air above my shoes. She leans to nudge my shoulder. “What did you tell Karen’s younger sister?”
“That I’m coming home since we’re thinking about selling the farm.”
Eileen shakes her head. “Rob, you’ll never sell.”
“No. Probably not.”
“So all this effort and misdirection is to pay your respects at Karen’s grave because she was your high school sweetheart?”
“Yes, mostly. Is that wrong?”
Eileen unwinds, throws up her hands. “I’m not jealous, Rob. Honestly, I’m not.”
“If you don’t think I should go, I won’t.”
“Show me the email again.”
I dig into my carry-on and search for the tablet.
My maiden name was Marilyn Grant. Do you remember me? I was Karen Grant’s younger sister. There’s sad news. Karen died last Friday.
Our family knew it was coming, but everyone kept hoping for a breakthrough, a miracle. About five years ago, Karen’s memory started fading. By the end she’d lost all of us, lost herself. First her grown sons, then me. She didn’t even know who I was.
Tomorrow we’ll bury Karen in Shiloh Cemetery, east of town. You know the one I mean, your parents are there. I don’t want you at the service or cemetery. That’s why I’ve waited so late to tell you. But someday you’ll come home and wonder where Karen is.
Bless you, Rob.
Outside airport windows, a June dawn gathers.
“Rob, didn’t you tell me Karen got married? There’s no mention of a husband, only her sons.”
“I thought she was married, but folks divorce, die. I don’t really know.”
“Marilyn tells you not to come, then says where you’ll find her grave.”
“You’re right, Eileen. That’s odd.”
“Are you sure Karen was your sweetheart, not this Marilyn person?”
“I’m sure, Darling.”
“Rob, you don’t have to lie to me. I’d be okay with it if Marilyn was your girl.”
I chuckle. “No, you wouldn’t. You’d be hopping mad if I visited my first love.”
“There’s still time to buy me a ticket.” Eileen touches her forehead to my temple.
I kiss her brow, stand, head for the ticket counter. “Be right back.”
“Don’t be silly. I’m teasing.” She jumps up to pull me back to our seats. “Call me first chance you get.”