I had two coats and I mostly wore one, so I took the other to the Salvation Army and gave it away, which felt good. I didn’t miss it. Next day when I was cooking, I noticed the pantry was filled with stuff we never ate—cans of beans, corn, and chili—so I took those to the food bank. That felt even better. Then because I had three chairs and it’s only ever me and D who sit at the kitchen table, I took the wobbly-legged chair to the Salvation Army, but as soon as it was done, I felt terrible, so the next day, to set things right, I took a good chair to the Salvation Army. Then D and I took turns sitting in the remaining chair, and I looked around and realized we had dishes, too, that we hardly ever used, so I packed up a box for the Salvation Army too. Next I culled through the books, and the music, and the small appliances, which gave me a satisfaction mingled with relief that I already had things that other people needed. I was just thinking how easy it was to make other people’s lives better by, for example, giving away your cheese slicer, when D came home with a cylinder of raw sheep’s milk cheese made with cardoon thistle from the historic city of Evora, north of Alentejo. “Slice the cheese with a knife,” I said. “I don’t want to slice it with a knife; I have a slicer for the purpose.” “Don’t be fussy,” I said, “it works just as well with a knife,” and I was about to show him when D grabbed the knife out of my handhis copy of Dune, he yelled, his popcorn maker, the humidifier, and now the cheese slicer, too? I jumped onto the kitchen chair and said, “Have you lost your mind? Are you threatening me over a fucking cheese slicer?” at which point D put down the knife and wept, having scared himself a little. “It’s okay,” I said. “Is it okay?” he asked. “Yes, it’s okay. You didn’t hurt me,” I said, but still I was shaken. The rest of that night we didn’t talk, and not the next day either, and the following night I waited until he was asleep, and then I put D in a box and took him to the Salvation Army, too.
The Good Woman
art by Gay Degani