His First Wife

by Patrick Civiello

Every morning Dad got up and took his nerve pill so he didn’t yell at us all day. His first wife, Jeanette, stepped out of a shower dripping wet and turned a short-circuited switch he’d installed. Ten years after her funeral my Mom looked over at me as she worked the cloth on the ironing board and said, “They had to take Uncle Louie’s voice box out.” Smelling of fresh gauze and cigarettes that Christmas Eve, his first family welcomed us as if nothing had happened. The adults laughed and joked and I secretly ate pink Canada Mints as they smoked 'til the kitchen was a fog bank. Then, I heard Louis use his machine voice as he walked from the fog; he coughed from the hole in his neck and I saw the skin under his bandage was as red as Dad’s little pills.


Patrick Civiello has lived in Maine most his life. He works in education and health care by day and aspires to write his life story after dark.