Eleven Days

Jane wanted me to buy a Miata, but Miatas are not known for performance in snow. The new Accord would be ready on Monday the tenth. We kept the titles of both our cars in Jane’s name, so that in her birth-month she could visit the town clerk to register both vehicles, but I didn’t think Jane should waste her energy riding to Concord to sign the papers. The dealer in Concord allowed me to let ownership remain flexible until the car’s pickup on Monday. Monday morning Jane insisted that we pick up the car together, and that she sign as owner.

She felt wretched and we set out. It was the weekly day off for the personable saleswoman with whom I had dealt, and who knew about Jane’s illness. Our new car was ready, black-green and smelling of leather, and a fill-in salesman handled the paperwork for us, a young man who normally did intake in the service department. We exchanged keys, and he presented papers for Jane as owner—Jane unsteady on her feet, pale, weak, mostly silent, wearing her wig. The young man addressed questions to me, not to Jane, and would not look her in the eye. He was awkward or embarrassed in the face of death, like most of us until we have practiced. It took her five minutes of concentration to sign her name. When we walked outside to our new car, Jane said slowly, “He didn’t think I was all there.”

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