It Happened in Brooklyn

By Alena Dillon

December 9, 2019

It Happened in Brooklyn

They fell in love back when Brooklyn had trolley cars.

He taped her photograph to the inside of his military locker. When the war ended, they married and lived in an apartment without running water in the kitchen, so they carried their dirty dishes to the bathtub. They bought a house and had four children who grew, married, and had children of their own.

She injected him with insulin. He counted her pills. She ordered from QVC. He signed for the packages.

Then she fell.

"Look at my beautiful bride," he said beside her open casket, wearing a lavender suit that matched the outfit she’d been laid out in.

He moved into her bedroom after she died. He could smell her on the sheets.

Six years later, he still clutches her state ID card in his hand as he falls asleep and tells her about his day. "There’s a squirrel in the attic, Joan. You wouldn’t believe the racket. It would drive you crazy."

And then, in the morning, inside that gauzy slice between wake and sleep, he hears her in the kitchen. He feels her in the house. For that second, he forgets that she is gone.

He cherishes that single heartbeat that exists without the consequences of time. And then he suffers her loss all over again.

His hands skim the blankets until he retrieves her ID. He shuffles to the window, presses it against the pane, and says, “This is what today looks like, Joan.”


Alena Dillon's novel, Mercy House, about a nun in Brooklyn who is investigated by the Vatican, is available for preorder, and will be published by William Morrow on February 11, 2020. Her work has appeared in Slice Magazine, The Rumpus, Seventh Wave, and other publications. 

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