I see her

She chops carrots at a wooden block she’s owned longer than this house
Her knuckles show the swell of arthritis but her hands still move quickly, practiced in this dance
She checks the time on the microwave
(It’s the only clock in the kitchen with the right time, the others set forward to help her move it when she’s late)
Not long now
She finishes the carrots and drops them into the cold pot of water, ready to boil with some butter, as her mother showed her years ago
Her hands now stained orange she peels potatoes and hums Cat Stevens singing her favourite parts now and again
Her voice warbling but pleasant, familiar, like a choir lady’s on Sunday
She hits the lower notes but the high ones have her reaching for her coffee and humming again
She dices and boils and bakes, putting far too much energy toward such a simple meal, She thinks.
She isn’t even hungry yet. But they will be.
She sets the table, putting away the newspaper with the half finished crossword and cut out articles and real estate ads. And the calendar with post it reminders to call her niece and her sister-in-law.
When she’s finished, the meal hot and ready, she calls them. And sits. And eats slowly, relishing the time between meals. Between the prepping and cleaning. Between the scrubbing and sweeping that make her knees and fingers ache. She sits, listening to her husband’s golf story, wondering how she got caught here. Where did the time go
But then, he asks for tea and she’s up again, turning the kettle on and waiting for its squeal above the hum of familial conversation
gazing at the life she has made up caringly like grandma’s quilts and the mess fades into the background like the edges of a worn photograph left out of the album

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