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by Adam Lock

According to Seth, the sexiest widows are those in their forties. I leave all the talking to him. He’s the talker — always has been, for over thirty years. I’m the old-man-driver and opener of hearse doors.

I get out of the car and cough blood into my handkerchief — Carol’s handkerchief — the one she embroidered with cornflowers. No one’s ever called me a widower. It’s different for men, like it’s not a big deal, like it’s hardly ever done this way around.

When the widow shuffles across the seat to get out, her dress rides up her thighs. I look away because I’m done with all that.

We have a smoke when the service is underway, which makes me cough some more. Seth jokes about having to drive when I’m laid out in the back of the hearse myself. I smile and tell him to put a coin in my mouth when it’s time. Charon’s Obol. He smiles because he doesn’t know.

After the service, I open the car door for the widow. She looks at me like she knows I’m one too. I wait for her to get in but she doesn’t. She raises a hand and cups the back of my head, pulls me towards her, and rests my head on her shoulder. When she lets go, she holds my face in her hands and kisses both my cheeks.

Up on the hill, at the far end of the cemetery, an old man leans yellow flowers against a gravestone. Above the crematorium, smoke rises into the June sky and a bird swoops up and over the roof, disappearing into a hedgerow.

The widow gets into the car and again her dress rides up her thighs. This time I look because of her perfume, because of her soft lips against my skin, because her underwear is cornflower-blue between the tops of her thighs, because I thought I was done with all that but I’m not. I’m not.

Adam Lock writes in the Black Country, UK. He won the TSS Summer Quarterly Flash Competition 2018 and the STORGY Flash Fiction Competition 2018. He was placed third in the Cambridge Short Story Prize 2017, and has been shortlisted twice for the Bath Flash Fiction Award 2018. He’s had, or soon will have, stories appear in various publications such as New Flash Fiction Review, Lost Balloon, MoonPark Review, Former Cactus, Ghost Parachute, Fictive Dream, Spelk, Reflex, Retreat West, Fiction Pool, Ellipsis Zine, and many others. Website: adamlock.net. Twitter: @dazedcharacter.