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by Frances Gapper

Afterwards he visits Europe. Glass-fronted pâtisseries and basement bars, on cobbled side streets, along freeways. He eats mille-feuille and frangipane, tarte tatin and sachertorte. Butter-puffed dough and caramelized sugar, crème de patisserie and ganache, candied fruit and marzipan. Posts photos on social media. Also reviews the coffee and quality of service, but knows he’s not fooling anyone.

A cigarette nearly singes his arm as the young aproned waiter sets down a slice of panettone. Ed would’ve nudged him, murmured dishy.

He tells strangers he’s a widower, the convenient shorthand. Ma femme est morte. Wife not husband.

Skeletal Ed propped on pillows, sipping tea. Thank you, my darling. Ta, sweetheart. Touching his face. Honey honey.

In the Wild Wood, Frances Gapper’s third collection of flashes and longer stories, was published in 2017 by Cultured Llama. Her other collections are The Tiny Key and Absent Kisses.