I found her driving gloves in the drawer of the hall room table. They lay neatly beside her keys; soft, smooth leather contrasting the sharp edges of cold metal and steel.
Carefully, I lift them into the light. It feels like a sacrilege. It is too soon. Too confronting. I am holding her hands; cold and limp.
I imagine her slim, elegant fingers outstretched in them, as I have seen many times in the past. These gloves are synonymous with her - a second skin.
Iconic images forge through my mind; her leather clad fingers wrapped around the steering wheel - leather upon leather squeaking with each flex and tightened grip, like sure, taut ropes against a ship's rigging.
A long elegant finger stretched skyward pointing out a hawk circling overhead as we huddle on a mound of ancient seaweed under a red woollen blanket spread over our knees; a brass wrist buckle glinting in the restrained winter sunlight.
Tentatively, I slip a glove over my clumsy hand. My hands are not slight, my fingers not elegant . The leather is tight around my fingers; snug and comforting. Bending my fingers, I wonder if the creases in the leather matched those of her palm and whether I could read her life through these same creases....if only I knew how.
The familiar aroma of well-kept leather is heady. She looked after her things as she looked after me.
Gently, I pull the glove from my hand. I stare at the gloves and swallow hard, contemplating the necessity of placing them back in the drawer; surrendering them to darkness for the final time.
"Keep 'em", a ragged voice strains from behind me.
I turn feebly toward the voice. Our watery eyes meet. Same eyes in different skulls.
With a barely detectable nod my eyes cast down to the gloves. "Thanks..... I think I will". Carefully, I fold the gloves into my coat pockets, quietly bid my farewells and leave.
I walk home with my hands in my pockets; her warm hands holding mine.