Kimberly Gould’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: Left Hanging
“Come here, Mom,” Clarice took her mother’s hand and pulled her into the bathroom.
“Clarice, I have things to do. I need to send these certificates out.” Anna dragged her feet, resisting her daughter.
“You need a break. I’ve run you a bath and you’re going to soak in it for no less than twenty minutes. I highly recommend you stay in there until the water gets cold.” She let Anna go inside the sunny lavatory where steam rose from the surface of the water. Rose petals floated, and the heat of the water sent their aroma wafting. Both Clarice and Anna inhaled deeply.
Clarice wrinkled her nose. “Seriously, Mom, you need a bath.”
“I do not stink,” Anna argued crossing her arms.
“No, but you are definitely riper than usual. Now get dressed and get it. I’m wedging this chair against the door so you can’t get out.”
“That’s completely ridiculous, Clarice. You can’t lock me-” Anna’s words were cut off by the slamming of the door and a scraping noise that could only be the chair.
Sighing, Anna accepted that there was nothing to do but enjoy the warm water. Peeling off clothes, she wrinkled her own nose. Maybe Clarice was right.
No, she knew Clarice was right. She hadn’t been eating properly and had no routine since Al passed. Sinking into the water she tried not to think about death certificates and insurance. Instead, memories of her husband overwhelmed her. She sank under the surface to wash away tears that she shouldn’t have left to cry.
It seemed like only a few minutes later that a repeated scraping was followed by Clarice’s voice, muffled through the door. “You can come out now, Mom, but you don’t have to. Don’t rush.”
When Anna did emerge ten minutes later, draining the lukewarm water behind her, a warm, terrycloth robe swathed her and lilac slippers kept the chill of the floor off her feet. She stopped on her way to her bedroom to look at the painting sitting on the floor next to the settee.
She stood staring and didn’t notice the tears on her cheeks until Clarice came and wrapped an arm around her.
“What’s wrong, Mom?”
Anna pointed. “He was going to hang that this weekend.”
“It’s okay, Mom. I can do it.”
“No. No, leave it right there.” Anna stalked to her room, a new fire in her belly. “I’ll tend my responsibilities. He can leave his there.”
“Mom?” Clarice asked, her voice thick with worry.
“Yes, Clarice. I’m okay. I’ll be right back to deal with those papers.”
Anna looked at herself in the mirror. “How could he leave me hanging like this?” Slamming a fist into the top of her dresser drawers, she watched her jewelry tree tumble and all his gifts of gold and diamonds topple down. One less thing hanging. She’d finish them all, so help her. She’d finish.
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Kimberly Gould is the author of Cargon: Honour and Privilege, and it's sequel Duty and Sacrifice. She can be found most places as Kimmydonn, including Kimmydonn.com