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Aunt Julia

The vibration of a passing train rattled the room. My new husband, she thought. A tear dropped from her eye and stained the pink paper. Annabelle closed her eyes. The death of her husband had occurred a few months earlier, but the pain lingered fresh and new.

I’m sorry, Mrs. Miles,” the doctor said. “Your husband has expired.”

Expired? Her husband was dead. A newspaper subscription expired. People died.

I tried to tell Jacob that his heart wasn’t strong enough to perform…well…the duties of marriage at his age,” he said.

In truth, Jacob had only performed his marital duty one time. And surely, those two minutes on their wedding night wasn’t enough to kill him. If anything, it had been harder on her. The consummation of her marriage had shown her what a terrible mistake she’d made. Perhaps Jacob had realized the same thing. Since that night, he’d slept in another room and hadn’t come to her bed again.

So what do I do now?she asked more to herself than to the doctor.

Send for the undertaker,” the physician answered with a shrug of his shoulders.

It took more than a week to lay Jacob to rest. His son Byron insisted that his body should be autopsied by the professors at the medical college. He wanted to be certain that his father hadn’t been poisoned. Annabelle hadn’t thought that her life could get any worse until several days after the funeral when Jacob’s lawyer came to the house to read Jacob’s Will. She’d known that something was amiss when Mr. Peterson had taken her aside and had told her that he’d held off as long as he could. To her horror, Jacob had left her nothing—not one penny to sustain herself. Everything went to Byron.

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