by Holly Robinson

It is time, now, to say goodbye. The movers came on Wednesday, carefully lifting the boxes of packed dishes, glasses and photographs of Sarah onto the truck along with the rest of the furniture, couches, chairs, tables, lamps, beds and mattresses. I was surprised that we had accumulated so much; it seemed like only yesterday that we moved into the house, eager to start our marriage, our jobs, our life together.

Some stuff was already gone. Richard took a few personal belongings when he left five months ago. The rocking chair that was a gift when he graduated from high school; the mixer he used to make milkshakes; the pancake griddle and the special recipe from that inn in Mendocino. He wanted to take the hutch that his parents had given us as a wedding present. But I had shopped for it with his mother and picked it out, and even she told him to let me have it. And, he got the season tickets to the local college football games, the only items I relinquished in our prenuptual agreement.  Richard also took Rosie, our dog. I was too heartbroken to take care of any living creature. We'd waited a long time to have children, discussing it endlessly. We loved each other and our lives and we weren't sure we wanted to change. When we finally decided to have a child, we waited an even longer time before Sarah was conceived.

"Enough daydreaming," I say to myself. It is time to take one last walk through the house before I leave and close the door. Footsteps echo faintly as I walk through the empty house past the scuff mark on the kitchen wall where Sarah had pushed her small metal grocery cart into it. "Just like Mommy," she had said proudly, her cart full, before she crashed.

I climb the stairs. Our bedroom is barren, the windows bare without the blinds. The walls in the office are sun-stained;  I can see where Richard's law school diploma used to hang. Where he proudly hung my high school diploma next to it. And where my best photographs of Richard and Sarah, in the rocking chair, at the park, under the weeping willow tree in the backyard, had graced the room.

Walking into Sarah's room, I spot her favorite rattle on the floor beneath the windowsill. A soft, worn-out puppy rattle, a gift for her first birthday, Sarah had insisted the rattle looked just like Rosie, only purple, her favorite color.  Surprised, I pick it up, cradling it gently in the palm of my left hand as I had cradled Sarah the day she was born, and as I thought I had cradled the rattle before I laid it to rest in her coffin.

Holly Robinson lives in Portland Oregon, where she write laws during
the day and short stories during the night, the former to feed her
children, the latter to feed her soul. Contact Holly.

a Women Writer's' Showcase