Tony Beach
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Extract From Proof


Agony is socially unacceptable. One is not supposed to weep. Particularly one is not supposed to weep when one is moderately presentable and thirty-two. When one’s wife has been dead for six months and everyone else has done grieving.

Ah well, they say: he’ll get over it. There’s always another pretty lady. Time’s a great healer, they say. He’ll marry again one day, they say.

No doubt they’re right.

But oh dear God... the emptiness in my house. The devastating, weary, ultimate loneliness. The silence where there used to be laughter, the cold hearth that used to leap with fire for my return, the permanent blank in my bed.

Six months into unremitting ache I felt that my own immediate death would be no great disaster. Half of myself had gone; the fulfilled joyful investment of six years’ loving, gone into darkness. What was left simply suffered... and looked normal.

Habit kept me checking both ways when I crossed the road; and meanwhile I tended my shop and sold my wines, and smiled and smiled and smiled at the customers.