Somewhere in the building across the street, in some scattered bit of his confused heart, Marcel admired what his wife had done. He shoved the deed into his pocket and wandered around. Rows and rows of patio furniture, all arranged neatly across the split room, more still in boxes in the back. Each table and each chair had accumulated only the dust since they were last cleaned perhaps two months earlier. Marcel pulled a plastic chair away from a glass table and its collapsed umbrella, and he rested.

When he proposed to his wife so many graying years ago, he promised her everything. They had nothing at the time so everything was easy to give, like a house, a family, food on the table. And all these things, he gave her.

They bought a store together, a little corner store in the small town where they lived. He liked the work but never quite understood the bookkeeping, so she took care of that. And every day, together, they ran the store. People went there for groceries, to rent movies, to enjoy a home-cooked meal. They raised their children there, and their children grew up to raise their own children there, and still, always together, they ran their store.

Looking around the dark room, Marcel wiped his eyes dry. All this furniture ordered from catalogues and shipped here, all set up and arranged and regularly cleaned. He had so many questions. He wanted none of them answered. He wanted out.

Last year, she told him that she was dying. She knew for a while, but she kept it to herself. It didn’t make sense, maybe, or she didn’t believe it, or she forgot. Her mind was getting old, she said. Foggy. She forgot some things, and remembered other things, things that never happened. Sometimes she didn’t recognize where she was.

He thought she was just tired.

She was tired for a long time.

Marcel made sure the For Sale sign was visible in the boarded-up windows. He locked up the building across from their store and put the key that the locksmith made into his pocket. According to the deed, they bought the building together years before she passed away, but this was the first time he’d seen this foggy place. He did not want to come back.