Gerald W. Haslam Biography Literary Honors Books & Article by GWH Books In Print. Online Stories & More

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Grace Period

"Lovers...who are also cancer survivors—"

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     That evening as I aided Miranda out of the recliner in the family room, I couldn't help noticing how much lighter she had become. She returned from the bathroom and plopped next to me on the couch, leaning against me.
     "A glass of wine?" I asked.
     "No thanks?"
     "Mind if I do?"
     She smiled. "I insist. It'll make you romantic?"
     In the kitchen I opened the bottle of a $3.99 special that I'd picked up at the store, then poured myself a glass.
     I returned to the living room, sat down on the couch next to the Champ, and took a sip.
     I replied in a grave voice, "It's an audacious little vintage, with a butter base and hints of nutmeg and apricot, and an aftertaste like . . ?" I paused and smacked my lips. "Like a turd?"
     For a second Miranda said nothing, then she exploded with laughter, a sound I'd heard too little of late. "A turd," she choked, then laughed again, her eyes filling with tears.
     "This is the worst shit I ever bought?"
     Her cheeks wet, her voice still deep in laughter, the Champ said, "You make a fine wine critic. A turd!"
     "Not if I have to drink this kind of stuff!" I grinned, infected by her guffaws.
     For the next few minutes we made small talk, but every so often she'd again burst into laughter. "A turd! You should have seen your face when you took that sip!"
     "I'm saving the rest of it for my brother?"
     That set her off again.
     I returned to the kitchen, emptied the offending wine into the sink, then poured myself a small glass of cream sherry and went back to the family room. We cuddled on the couch and, with the remote, I surfed channels on the television until we heard a rich tenor voice with a dark-haired kid younger than any of our own children wielding it. "This okay?" I asked.
     "Sure, it's fine?" she said, "but who is that?"
     "I don't know. He can sure sing?"