Even when they no longer had to be, Sonny and Melinda were early risers. She was always up to make sure Sonny had some breakfast before he headed to the creek to pull a meager living from the water. What little money he did make was given over to Melinda who added it to the more considerable sum she collected in rent from the farms her daddy left her. Finances held no interest for Sonny, and he was perfectly happy to let his wife handle them, as well as all other details of their life.
In the past few years, keeping track of Sonny took up most of Melinda's time, and to her friends, seemed to also be taking a toll on her health. More than once, concerned neighbors called to say they saw him walking down the county road towards the docks, even though his boat was gone now, Melinda having sold it. He walked because she also sold his truck after the sheriff warned her about ever seeing Sonny behind the wheel again. In the house she found that keeping the television and radio off helped keep Sonny less agitated. Except for the ever-present wind and Melinda's soft humming, things were kept mostly quiet now.
The day things changed, Sonny came downstairs to no breakfast or coffee on the table, and no neatly rowed string of pills Melinda had been laying out for him. He was able to find some cornbread from last night's dinner on the counter. Sitting there most of the morning occasionally picking crumbs off the shirt he slept in, he listened to the wind outside and to the sounds of the house. The phone rang about mid morning, but Melinda didn't answer it, and Sonny had stopped using the phone. When it rang these days it was usually their daughter calling from across the bay, always at the same time, always with the same questions. He once looked forward to her calls, but this changed as memories of her faded in his shrinking world.
When Sonny's stomach told him it was time for lunch, but there was none, he went looking for Melinda. He found her upstairs still in bed from the night before. It was unlike her to nap, let alone sleep-in. He was awfully hungry and needed her to wake up, but even calling her name she would not stir. Sonny crawled into bed with Melinda thinking he could tickle her special spot and maybe wake her, but her arm was in the way, stiff and cold. A disappointed, confused Sonny went back downstairs to eat the last of the cornbread, never thinking to open the pantry door or to look in the fridge.
Early in the afternoon the phone rang again breaking the house's silence, but this time it didn't stop, and to Sonny felt as if the ringing was in his head. Wishing the noise would stop, he finally picked up the phone, and on the other end there was a voice he thought he should know.
"Momma? Momma? Momma are you there?"
"Hello. I'm Sonny Belote."
"Daddy? Daddy, where's Momma?"
"Where's Momma? Melinda, where's Melinda?"
"She's still sleeping."