Tuesday, March 12, 2013


He died on a Tuesday, but it was Friday before she got the email.

Subject: Sad News

She dwelled on the other names in the dean's send list: 

Jacob Hershel. 
Emma Wallace. 
Owen Mather

Her brain kicked at them, but they had the spongy resiliency of youth. Her eyes slid past the rest, falling off the screen into her lap.

Thirty-six years. 

It had been thirty-six years since her stint as Max’s research assistant. It shouldn’t surprise her that he was dead. She was old enough now. 

--passed away after an extended illness--

Yet it wouldn't stick.

She made herself available to the information, and it just wouldn't stick.

The problem was that she hadn’t experienced the world as anything less over the last three days. This seemed a proof enough. Surely she would have felt something had Max been dead. She would have sensed it, if only in hindsight. 

She wouldn’t have gotten her hair done in a universe bereft of Max Jamison. 

She wouldn’t be folding her hands like that. 

--survived by his beloved wife, Jean, and their two children, Rebecca and Joshua. A service will be held--

A scholarship will be endowed--

His legacy lives on in the many--

She stood and went to her bedroom. 

In a shoebox beneath her bed, she kept the few things he’d given her. There was the time he’d insisted on adding her name to a journal article he’d authored: Ignobling the Noble Gases. Months later, he’d cooked up a pink crystal in the shape of a snowflake, before presenting it to her in a petri dish in the lab. To deflect her euphoria, she had teased him about its potential toxicity. For an instant, he had looked hurt and she had felt so very sorry. 

Setting the things aside, she reached for the letter.  


She let the paper drop to the floor and brought the envelope to her mouth. Closing her eyes, she brushed the flap of the broken seal across her lips.


So she did it again. 

And again. 

And again. 

And again. 


the walking man said...

Can one ever recover a singular emotion once it has passed? I have my answer, mayhaps now she has hers?

Paul said...

This is lovely.

"She wouldn’t have gotten her hair done in a universe bereft of Max Jamison." <- this is my favorite line of the piece. It conveys the pay she feels as well as the character of Max.

Charles Gramlich said...

so much more powerful for those things left unsaid here. Great piece.

Sarah Hina said...

Mark, I don't think the emotion's passed so much as been repressed.

I tend to think some emotions live on forever, whether we want them to or not. Which is both beautiful and sad.

Paul, thank you. It's weird to think about going about your daily business, in total ignorance of such a loss. I think it would feel like a betrayal of yourself, somehow.

Charles, thanks so much.

Vesper said...

She made herself available to the information, and it just wouldn't stick.
I know this feeling, the despair feeling like a stone inside...
This is such a moving, powerful piece, Sarah. Your writing is wonderful and it breaks my heart...

Wendy said...

Great piece, Sarah. You should send it somewhere.

Sarah Hina said...

Vesper, thanks for identifying with this one. It means a lot. xoxo

Wendy, maybe I will. Thanks, my friend.

June said...

How DO you do it, dearest? Just, ALL the feels. Oh, and "Ignobling the Noble Gases"?? Awesomesauce.

Sarah Hina said...

June, those stupid noble gases. So FULL of themselves! ;)

Thank you. It's awfully good to see you here.