She watched him fill the bird feeder, wanting to tell him not to bother. What was his name again? Bob? Bill? Tom? Tom. Yes, that seemed familiar. But it didn’t matter–he’d never understand her even if she was able to get the words out. And the effort was just too much.
Behind her, she knew that other residents stared at the morning news show on TV or still dawdled over cold eggs and toast back in the dining room. She watched Tom scoop out more seeds and then reattach the lid of the feeder. What had eaten the bird food? She’d seen no birds since the day before yesterday. Must be the squirrels. That’s OK. They deserved to eat, too. She’d never minded squirrels and groundhogs and the other animals people seemed to hate.
Why didn’t anybody else notice the disappearance of the birds? She relied on them to start her day with song; a melodic contrast to the constant din always surrounding her in this place. They’d been here two days ago; she was sure of it. Yesterday it had rained and her grim mood had never lifted. Something felt wrong. Today, the sun was out once more, but her heart still ached. She blamed the birds’ absence.
Somewhere behind her, one attendant watched Betty at the glass doors, and spoke softly to the other. “Do you think she knows he died?” Equally softly, the second attendant answered, “I doubt it. Maybe when he stops visiting, she’ll notice.” She shook her head slowly, thinking how quietly a 55-year marriage can end.
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