The boys had left and Betty called back a few minutes later to make sure they had gone home.  Alma sat in Harlan’s chair in the den, popping back the recliner to put her feet up.  She looked down and noticed that her ankles were swollen from the long hours at the hospital.  She sighed.
It was a quite a while Alma sat staring into a black television screen.  The large black hole mounted on the wall that she and the boys had surprised Harlan with on the last Father’s Day.  The house was quiet.
Alma sat and waited for Harlan to come in the room and cough.  Indicating he was ready to get comfortable in his chair.  When she was younger, the boys were still in school, she would send them t their room while she made dinner.  After the meal was made, she’d set it to warm and go sit in Harlan’s chair and read a book.  He would walk in the door from the kitchen after seeing that the boys set the table and the food was on the table, he’d stand there and cough until Alma noticed him.  Then after the boys were grown and gone, raising families of their own.  They continued the same routine.  In the last few years, when Alma was home and had the time, she would sit in his chair and read. Harlan would come and stand near her and cough softly until she was pulled from the world within the book she was reading.  She’d get up and move over to her chair and they would watch the news, or just sit and read.  This was how she would know for sure he was gone.  She would sit here until he coughed for her to move.


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