I listen to The Cranberries whenever I please now

I played my tunes while I washed soccer uniforms and leotards, made school lunches, prepared presentations for work. Distracting, you said, as Jeremy toddled around shouting “in your head, in your head, in your heeeaaaad!” I could have used headphones, but I needed to hear the kids.

My sister would ask “Why did you marry such an old guy?”

You’d listen to old favorites if you were in a scotch and salted almonds mood. We agreed on Dylan. You laughed at his line from “Idiot Wind”: “I can’t even touch the books you’ve read.” I could line up all the books you’ve read, from the slender illustrated tales first read to you as a child then triumphantly read to yourself at the tender age of four, then chapter books, assigned novels, then those scholarly tomes that made you ill to remember all you’d forgotten since, and historical volumes obscenely thick with cruelty, and, speaking of obscene, there’s the top shelf paperbacks hidden in holiday bags from the Produce Palace, and there’s the to-do books: woodworking, motorcycle repair, beer brewing, playing the recorder..but the biggest to-do was the reading, wasn’t it, always the reading and there’s never enough time, is there, to read it all, everyone dies not having read everything they wanted to read, even those non-readers who sigh and say “I wish I had time to read…” but God knows you tried to read it all and there was never enough time to fix that faucet, teach your children to ride a bike, attend games and recitals, call your mother during her chemotherapy, or plan a single birthday party for me after all the celebrations I had for you.

And certainly, no time at all to sit down with a lawyer and write out a goddamned will.

Michelle Morouse is a Detroit area pediatrician. Her flash fiction and poetry has appeared recently or is forthcoming in Gemini, Bending Genres, Burningwood Literary Journal, Midwest Review, Rush, Kestrel, Prose Online, Best Microfiction 2022, Touchstone Literary Magazine, Faultline Journal of Arts and Letters, and Unbroken. She serves on the board of Detroit Working Writers. Follow: @MichelleMorouse