Archie was kind and patient. He kept fresh flowers on the table. He somehow found soft-shell crabs for dinner, even though they were out of season. He drew a bath for me every evening when I came home from work. A tonic for the spirit, he said.
He invited Mickey to spend Labor Day weekend with us in the Berkshires, maybe hoping to break the spell of my grief.
Mickey told a lot of jokes, most of which were of the animals-sitting-around-talking variety, my favorite. He did little comedy bits: after lunch, he turned to me and in a twangy voice said, "I have weird thoughts sometimes. Do you think that's weird?"
It hurt not to laugh. Finally, I asked him to give up on me for a while.
Sunday, when they went to play golf, I stayed behind at the house. I took the manuscript for Mickey's new book out to the picnic table underneath the apple tree.
I adored Mickey. I thought he was sweet to try so hard to make me feel better. But he irked me that weekend as he never had before. The tiniest things bugged me--like, his not washing his cereal bowl or coffee mug. I even wondered if Archie had noticed--and it bothered me, thinking he hadn't.
Monday night, Archie called Mickey and me in from the meadow, saying, "You kids ready to go?" And I realized that what I'd been feeling that weekend was sibling rivalry.
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