First of the month. And that meant first of the month rituals for Karen. New box of food for the cat, new set of bill paying envelopes, and a new page on the calendar. She ripped the old month’s page off and then realized it was May. Her hands trembled a bit as she crumpled the April calendar and threw it in the trash.
No maypoles and happy flowers for her. Only pain as there was every May first for the last ten years. Memories of the day flashed through Karen’s head. The crash, the surgeries, the double funeral and Sarah’s small casket almost huddling next to Jim’s full sized one at the front of the church.
Tears threatened to spill out of Karen’s eyes before being blotted away with the ever present tissue. “Please help me to get through this month,” she silently prayed.
The phone’s ringing pulled Karen from her reverie and she sighed upon realizing which tune was playing, the Bonanza theme. Her realtor had the worst timing. Karen took a quick look around to make sure the kitchen was clean. She was sure the woman could see through the phone.
“Good morning Ellen.”
“Oh good morning Karen,” Ellen chirped. “I have wonderful news.”
Did she ever have bad news? “Yes Ellen.”
“Three showing requests for the house today…”
The realtor went on about when but Karen couldn’t hear it. Not today, why today? She just wanted to stay home with her memories. It was hard enough selling the house, but did she have to deal with this today?
“Karen, Karen did you hear me?”
“Hunh? Sorry Ellen, the water was boiling.” Karen flipped the tea pot on so the noisy thing would prove her right.
“I said they all want to come this morning. That shouldn’t be a problem will it.” Ellen was good at making a question into a command.
“Yes, yes it is,” Karen wanted to scream into the phone. “The house has been on the market for two months and today you want to bring in the whole world?” She resisted. “Of course not Ellen. How soon?”
“About an hour? The first couple is super excited. They’re expecting a little girl and I think they’ll just love that second bedroom…”
Karen’s stomach cramped and she grabbed the counter for support. “Not Sarah’s room. Did you have to talk about that?”
“Ellen I haven’t even had my tea. Can we do this later, or tomorrow even?” Karen new she sounded odd and could picture Ellen’s mouth firming into a thin line of disapproval.
“It’s today isn’t it?” Ellen’s voice was surprisingly soft.
The tears came in a torrent and Karen could only mumble out a thick, “Yes.”
Neither woman knew how to fill the silence.
“Well then,” came Ellen’s still soft voice through the phone. “How about this.” Her voice gained speed and volume as she gathered her plan. “I’m sending you to the spa for a morning of pampering and then you and I will have lunch and you can tell me all about your family.” She paused. “Sometimes it’s good to talk to someone and let it all out before we can move on. How about that.”
The tears flow came again and Karen let them flow freely. Ten years and she’d never talked to anyone. Ten years of seeing Jim’s clothes in the closet and keeping Sarah’s room just as it had been. Ten years of limping up and down the stairs because her leg hadn’t healed well and she didn’t want to leave this place.
Karen flipped off the kettle before it could boil. She wouldn’t be needing that anymore.
Picture courtesy InternetClipart.com