Pollen litters the surface of the bench top. She sees it the minute she walks through the door into the kitchen. She drops her bag, grabs the sponge and wipes the tiny yellow pinheads away. She stares at the vase on the bench. It is brimming with last week's dying white lilies. The cycle of death returns once again. She rinses the sponge and places it perfectly straight against the edge of the sink, and then dries her hands on a snow-white hand towel. She surveys the rest of the kitchen. Everything is spotless and tells her that her daughter, Lisa, isn’t home yet.
Lifting her bags from the floor, she unpacks them on the bench she has just cleaned. The items cluster together one last time before they are separated into their respective homes. There are lentils, beans, some fresh broccoli and cauliflower. The habit of veganism lingers. She leaves the lentils to one side, mentally making soup for dinner for the two of them. The weather has turned in the past week and she can feel the promise of winter wrapped in these early autumn days. The chill in the air reminds her of her husband and the approaching anniversary of his death. She brushes the memory away as though it were frost on her shoulders.
Placing the vegetables into the fridge, she sees the note Lisa has attached to the fridge door with a magnet her father brought home from the States years ago. It is a smiling pink pig.
“Mum…I’ll grab something while I’m out – don’t wait up…Lisa.”
She plucks the note from the pigs mouth as the image of homemade lentil soup is quickly replaced by toast and green tea in front of the television. A long heavy sigh slips through her lips as she contemplates a night home alone.
She gathers the dying lilies from the vase on the bench and upends them in the trash, along with the note. With the kitchen in order, she then moves through the house. It is still a house more than a home with its straight lines and perfect curves. The place is near new, bought with money from her late husband’s estate. It’s like walking through an architectural blizzard – everything white and smooth – the walls, the furniture, even the prints on the walls are pale and insipid.It seems like all colour has washed from her life though the memories remain as vivid as ever.
She sees the dining table strewn with paper – mostly brochures and travel itinerary. She can feel the knot begin to wind in her gut again. Irritation pinches her mouth to a grimace as she moves to the table edge and with one finger, opens the front flap of a brochure. Azure blue water sparkles up at her as sailboats bob along, seemingly without a care in the world. Their decks are sprinkled with overly beautiful women and men sailing toward the edge of the paper. She closes the brochure and notices the airline ticket amid the mess. Its one-way status glaring back at her. In a weeks time her daughter will be one of those overly beautiful people having the time of her life. She searches her mind for excuses to make her stay and has managed to stall her a couple of times but it seems time has run out. Her boat has reached the edge of her paper where their journey ends, where her daughter will sail on into uncharted waters. She fights the compulsion to tidy the mess; to straighten and control her external surrounds. Moments pass and she moves from the table, aware that her life line is slipping slowly away from her. Her daughter is leaving, seemingly without a care in the world.