Today’s garbage day, and there’s a windstorm. Torn envelopes and food wrappers scurry through the neighborhood like tumbleweeds. Trash bins lie in the road with their lids flung agape. Warren steers wide around them, headed home from the post office, where the woman behind the counter told him they couldn’t just stop Beverly’s mail from arriving. “You have to go online, to the Direct Marketing Association’s Deceased Do Not Contact list.”
            “On the computer?” he said. “I’d rather kill myself.”
            And he could almost hear Beverly’s voice then, whispering into his ear: Say, “Not really.”
            At home, there’s paper sticking out of the brass mailbox. It had come in the ten minutes he was gone.
           He parks, gets out, and removes advertising circulars, Valpak coupons, pre-approved credit card applications—all in Beverly’s name. Warren holds them above his head before liberating them like frantic release doves. “Fly, you fuckers!”
            He cleans his glasses on his coat and heads inside. It’s only three-thirty, but he wants to drink until he blacks out and maybe sleep forever.
            Say, “Not really.”
            Beverly was a habitual finger-crosser and wood-knocker who refused to stay on the fourteenth floors of hotels because she knew they were really the thirteenth. When the disease stole all but the last of her memories, she’d still make Warren say “not really” to quash the bad luck of his black humor.
            When he cut his finger with a kitchen knife and joked he’d bleed to death.
            Say, “Not really.”
            When he mused that the Chinese would enslave us within a decade.
            Say, “Not really.”
            There’s gin and bourbon in the kitchen, but he runs cold water and makes coffee instead. While it brews, Warren gazes out the window above the sink. Along the fence runs a hard-packed stretch of dirt that had once been Beverly’s garden. In the perfect purgatory of her disease—when she remembered past blooms but not the words “iris” or “dahlia”—he’d pierce the dirt with the plastic stems of silk flowers, and she’d stand before this window and smile.
            The first sip of coffee fogs his glasses so that, for a moment, he’s lost in a cloud only he can see. He ambles down the hallway to his small study, rests his mug on the desk, and opens the lowest drawer, removing matches and his usual stockpile of candles: pillar and taper and votive. A half-dozen tea lights Beverly once put in jack-o-lanterns. He arranges some on the desk and the rest among bookshelves. After lighting all of them he shuts the door, closes the curtains, and turns off the lamp.
            Among the dim orange light, Warren sips coffee and reads the newspaper while, outside, wind-thrashed branches rasp against the siding. Soon the room’s air has burned so thin he feels high as if on wine. It’s something like amnesia. He breathes deeply, head floating, wanting to be blessed the way she was cursed, with a mind scrubbed utterly free.
            But not really. Not really. Not.

Adam Schuitema is the author of the forthcoming novel Haymaker (Switchgrass Books, 2015) and the short-story collection Freshwater Boys, which was named a Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Glimmer Train, the North American Review, Indiana Review, TriQuarterly, the Black Warrior Review, and Crazyhorse. He’s an associate professor of English at Kendall College of Art and Design and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with his wife and daughter.