When Amelia Graynor’s husband died, it took her a little while to adjust. He had died suddenly, from a stroke, and although she wondered for a moment whether a proper stroke unit, a high-quality hospital rather than their suburban institution and its arrogant chief of surgery, might have saved him. But then her husband had left quickly, likely not in too much pain and she calmed down.
Only a fool would have called their marriage a happy one. Her neighbors, sister and distant relatives, even her friends were unfazed by this knowledge and cried and suffered with an intensity that Amelia found peculiar. The howling and hugging reminded her of TV-documentaries on grief rituals in foreign cultures. It was all a bit too much. Amelia couldn’t help but think whom of these crying ladies her husband had fucked in his last years. When she closed her eyes she tried to imagine Dina Wisner’s naked back, moving up and down with Mr. Graynor underneath her. The curtains drawn over lunch break. The problem was: every woman’s body fit above her husband’s. An endless stream of faces and hair colors passing in front of her. None of this was true. All of this was true. Amelia opened her eyes.
Widowhood became her well. She wore her head proudly and shopped for dark clothes in high-end stores. The town uproar ebbed off, leaving her with fewer calls, fewer friends and a large sum in her back account. Inheritance seemed an archaic concept of providing for a weak family member. Amelia wanted to refuse this incredible affront, but of course she didn’t. She stared at the numbers at her computer screen and correlated them to the amount of nuisance and unhappiness their marriage represented. Why not divorce this town, now? The money asked her. It seemed a possibility. But Amelia had recently noticed the husbands of other women whisper and look her way. Somebody had walked up to her, pressed her hand and told her he couldn’t stand the deceased. They knew. Their wives had failed to disguise their despair at newly-found sexual wastelands in her husband’s absence. Amelia saw the ladies’ tight dresses, high heels, fake laughter. She thought, I know. You had twice the fun I had and at my expense. She was now fairly rich, reasonably beautiful still and at the center of attention.
At the Wisner’s garden party Amelia led Mr. Wisner aside and told him they could revenge the wrongs their significant others had done to them. It took him only a few minutes to ponder and then to show her the game room upstairs. As he pulled down her skirt over the pool table Amelia felt incredibly alive.