Every ride down the strip
As she passes her unofficially designated parking space
To see that’s it’s still empty
She has to allow herself a smug little grin
Co-workers, usually 30 years her junior
Frequently joked that they needed to erect a sign in her honor
Of course, they all knew better, even the yunguns
They worked for a pharmacy, not big pharma
Her honor would remain theoretical
She appreciated it nonetheless

These days, she passes that empty space
In the passenger seat
Even if her tremors didn’t prevent it
Her anxiety certainly would
No, best leave the driving to Allen
Whose cautious manner and enduring patience
Suits her well
She could recount the tale of her fake sign
Over and over, as she has
He sits, listens, chuckles
Like it’s the first time

The satisfying crunch of gravel
Little Penny’s trot to the car
Allen opening the door for her
Bending down to give Penny a scratch
Settling into the couch for the evening
All rituals signifying the end of the day
These small, predictable moments
Provide such unspoken comfort
In a world she no longer knows
Nor desires to

Her chicks flew the coop years ago
But the rusty screen door still screams often
The living room bright and abuzz with life
During holidays and breaks
But tonight, nothing but silence
Allen already asleep on the other side
Of the house, empty
Nights like these she wonders
Not if tomorrow will be any different
But rather
If she even wants it to be