“I swear to you, I wanted more.”

The last words of his wife, Nora, still haunted Jack.

The sun seemed dull for a summer morning. It, too, like Jack wanted to sleep in longer and worry less about the unpaid bills and unkept house. “Arrghhhh! Hmph.” Nora must be turning in her grave to the other side to avoid his filthy morning breath. Not like she woke up smelling like lilacs. Jack amused himself. Actually, she did. She always smelled like flowers, like she had just run over a flower garden and taken all their fragrance. He dragged his shriveled body out of the bed to freshen up. Passing by the window, he stared at the vegetable garden that refused to die even when he hardly paid any attention to it. Nora fought for a fenced vegetable garden to protect her precious broccoli and tomatoes from rabbits. So they would save on groceries in their retirement. Where was she now, in their retirement? Leaving him with a bunch of carrots, cabbage, and potatoes to cook every day.

“Hmph!” He entered the bathroom.

30 mintutes later….

The slow flight downstairs to the kitchen annoyed him a little more today. The handrail was dusty, making him cough more than usual. The paint was chipping in places he could not reach without a stepstool. And what angered him the most was the spider lounging upside down on the highest corner of the ceiling, waiting for the fly to give up. “Hmpphhh” Jack tried to growl at the spider but failed miserably.

The kitchen was his least favorite room these days. He had no idea how to use it and keep it clean simultaneously. The empty boxes clogged the trashcan. The dishes he rinsed yesterday after dinner still did not shine. He wondered if Nora was magical, maybe. “Hmmmppphh”. Jack would not spend more time than he needed to in this rude kitchen. After all, he bought this house for Nora over 50 years ago. So what if she was the one who really cleaned, maintained, or decorated it? How dare this house behave disrespectfully to him. Jack decided to look around for his coffee mug. After 5 minutes of relentless search, he found it in the basin next to yesterday’s breakfast plate. “Hmpphh!”

The coffee machine hissed the arrival of a fresh morning in a cup. Jack grabbed the cup to step out and sit in the garden of flowers. The house and he needed some time off. He was going to spend this dull morning outdoors admiring his lifelong work. Maybe pluck a few for his bedside table. Nora wouldn’t mind it, not anymore.

The garden he made for Nora looked more beautiful in the lousy sunlight. He wished for her to smile at him again, holding a book and drinking some awful-tasting herbal tea. Nora loved flowers, all kinds. She even grew wildflowers all around their house’s boundary so bumblebees could always protect their home. She was weird that way. Clearly, no one protected her when she needed it the most. Nobody could. Jack sat down next to the empty chair, breathing in the aroma, the fragrance of his Nora, and decided to forgive the house for its rude behavior. For today!

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