by Molly Whyte
The rain hitting the train window, held ajar, smells like the sea. Heavy drops bounce off back garden fences, the sky pinned down with clouds. Beth had marked this weekend in her calendar, uncertain what it would feel like to step across the line she had carefully drawn. She relaxes as the carriage sways gently, but her stop is soon announced through the speakers overhead.
Beth makes her way out of the station. The rain has eased to a drizzle and it’s only a short walk, so she opens an umbrella and adopts a slower pace than usual. Her small suitcase slides along sodden leaves. To anyone else, the neat houses must look welcoming. To Beth, they seem hostile.
32, 34, 36. Reaching number 38, where weeds are growing between the slabs of the front path, she breathes deeply. She could only put this off for so long. Rooms need to be cleared and cleaned. Boxes and packing tape will be delivered tomorrow. With Max in Australia, she’s the only one left to do it all.
The narrow hallway looks the same as she left it after the funeral months ago. No frills, just a row of hooks on the wall where three sets of keys used to hang. Though her luggage is light, Beth feels the weight of the journey. She climbs the stairs, placing her bags in the smallest bedroom at the back of the house. The faded remains of a bumble bee sticker are still visible on the door.
“Beth had marked this weekend in her calendar, uncertain what it would feel like to step across the line she had carefully drawn.”
From where she stands by the foot of the twin bed, Beth can see the garden. That square patch of grass was the site of many summer adventures. Mum would wave a rubber-gloved hand from the kitchen window while they splashed in the paddling pool. It was great fun until one of them got tired or it sprang a leak.
Returning downstairs, Beth considers her options. She could begin by sorting the kitchen things. Utensils might be a gentle start. Surely she won’t cry over a ladle. Perhaps the books in the living room? Either way, she has to sift through the rest of it eventually.
Beth summons a quiet courage and gets to work.
Molly is a communications specialist and writer. She shares personal essays, short stories, poetry and more on her blog.