The hole where Andy used to be came downstairs and sat at the kitchen table. I served him a plate of eggs before I remembered the hole never ate. As I took it back to place in the fridge, I felt like a fool.
Not much later, I found the hole where Andy used to be at the front door. Rex heeled beside the hole and whined. Still, the hole made no move. So I took Rex for his walk instead.
The hole where Andy used to be ended up outside, where Bobby followed. Our son had a ball and glove, but the hole made no move to play catch. So Bobby tossed the ball into the air to himself, all while he stared at the hole where his father had once been.
We ate that day at Sally’s Diner, at our usual table. The hole where Andy used to be took his customary seat. The hole said nothing, so Bobby and I kept our own awkward silence the whole meal.
The car made unusual noises on the way home, so I parked and opened the hood. The hole where Andy used to be stood over it, but the hole had no solutions.
At bedtime, I found the hole where Andy used to be at the side of Bobby’s bed. The hole made no move toward the worn copy of A Wrinkle In Time, with the scrap paper bookmark. So I read in the hole’s stead, and I pulled the Iron Man sheets over our son.
The hole where Andy used to be followed me to our room. I cried as quietly as I could manage, so as not to upset Bobby. The hole never offered to hold me.
My sisters told me I should date again, that enough time had passed. I told them I couldn’t, and I gave them every reason save the real one: I still lived in the same house as the hole where Andy had once been. I didn’t know how the hole might respond.
Still, they arranged for Dan to meet me at a party. I shook his hand and pretended to smile, while the hole where Andy used to be stood at my elbow. I practiced excuses for the inevitable asking out, but he disarmed me with charm and common interests. When he asked me to dinner that first time, I looked over to the hole for a handy excuse, before I managed to answer that I supposed I could.
The hole where Andy used to be accompanied us on every date. He was always there, but sometimes the conversation distracted me enough and he made me laugh enough that I didn’t notice the hole’s presence for a while.
Now Dan plays catch with my son sometimes. And he reads him stories, if not at bedtime. He walks Rex with me, too. The hole where Andy used to be is still there, a physical presence. Dan hasn’t filled it. But he stands beside it, and that’s good enough for now.