The Widow's Walk

The Widow's Walk by Carole Ann Moleti Page A

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Authors: Carole Ann Moleti
even affection, as opposed to the detached Good Samaritan spirit of friendly assistance.
    She pulled the waistband up until she was covered but didn’t want to let go. Maybe the physical contact would rekindle even just a little romance.
    He eased her down. “I better get dressed. Don’t want to keep Kevin waiting.” No kiss, no hesitation. Done.
    When one part of the couple could no longer buy into something mutually pleasurable, even cuddling, it didn’t bode well. Liz re-threaded the Velcro straps and tightened them over the fabric. She crutched like a pro to the bathroom, and her heart sagged as she caught a glimpse in the mirror.
    Balanced on one leg like a sleeping heron, the bunch under the brace made her leg appear deformed. Angry red scratches dotted her face. A bruise had made its appearance on her right temple.
    The scabs pulled as she brushed her teeth, snagged as she smoothed on makeup, and looked just as bad after she combed her hair. No wonder Mike didn’t want to be near her.
    Already familiar with the ritual of sitting on the landing, holding the crutches so they didn’t slide down before her, she thumped her bum down each of the thirteen steps. Voices buzzed in the kitchen as Liz hauled herself up and maneuvered through the swinging door.
    Kevin and Mike looked up from their tea and toast.
    “Mary, Mother of God.” Kevin bounded to her side, then paused as he tried to figure out how to hug Liz without knocking her off balance. “How can I help?”
    “I have to do this myself, Kevin.” Was everything she said one big metaphor for her crazy life? She stabbed the floor with the rubber tips and sat.
    “We’ve go to get going or we’ll miss the tide.” Mike glanced at the door and poured her a cup of tea. “Toast’s already buttered.” He plunked a plate down like a busy waiter.
    “Mae will be here in a minute. She was feedin’ and dressin’ Eddie when I left.” Tears filled Kevin’s eyes, and the heartfelt distress etched on his face conjured wetness in Liz’s eyes as well.
    “I need to explain what happened.” Liz glanced at Mike, who disappeared into the mudroom.
    They’d been talking about her. She knew it as sure as she knew the sun would come up.
    “Just promise me ya won’t do anythin’ like that again.” He grabbed her hands across the table with more emotion and power than Mike had exhibited since the accident.
    “I won’t, Kevin.” She squeezed his fingers between hers.
    Deep inside, so deep Liz could barely parse it out as different from her own, Elisabeth’s voice echoed, I won’t Paul.
    “God, love ya, Lizzy. There isn’t anythin’ worth more than a life. All the money stuff will get figured out.”
    Mike came back into the kitchen, his jacket and cap already on. He pulled on his gloves. “Truck is warmed up, Kevin.”
    “Right.” Kevin leaped to his feet and grabbed his coat off the back of the chair. “I wonder where Mae is.”
    Mike exhaled. Kevin fidgeted. The cuckoo clock ticked.
    They didn’t trust her alone. And she could prove it. “I’ll just sit and finish my tea. She’ll be here any minute.”
    “We have a few more minutes . . .” Mike’s voice trailed off as Mae’s footfalls echoed on the back porch.
    Kevin ran to the door, an angry lilt in his voice. “Will ya look at the time?”
    “Go on now. Late one day and yer givin’ me grief. I had to tend to Eddie, and bundle him up.”
    Sobered, dismissed, Kevin pecked her on the cheek.
    “Thanks, Mae. Feel better, Liz. Don’t forget to call the physical therapist.” Mike made a silly face at the baby, and he and Kevin hurried out.
    Eddie leaned toward Liz, extended his arms, and whimpered.
    Her nipples tingled as the milk let down and seeped through her shirt. At least her maternal instincts and abilities were still intact.
    Mae undressed Eddie and brought him to her. “He’s been fine, but of course as soon as he sees ya he’s got to have it.”
    The baby snuggled, nuzzling his

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