She brushed the crumbs and few stray hairs from the sheets as she made the bed, feeling the leftover warmth from their bodies resonate on the pillows. Thank you for this, she whispered. She moved slowly about the room, straightening a few things here and there before turning off the light and heading upstairs. She paused for a moment before reaching the top, inhaled and let out the breath slowly. Her knuckles whitened around the banister for a moment, and she set a smile on her face.

“Good morning.” She said, nodding her head at the grey haired woman seated in her kitchen.

“A little early for you, is it Barbara?” The grey haired woman asked.

“No, it’s not. I’m sorry I took so long. Would you like some coffee?”

“If it’s not going to be awful.”

Barbara bit down on her tongue to keep herself from responding and grabbed the bag of coffee beans. It was going to be a long six months.


I opened my eyes at the sound of my alarm and blinked slowly in the dark as I tried to remember what day it was. The space on the bed beside me was empty but still warm–he must be in the bathroom. The red digital numbers on the clock said 8:05. He had overslept. Then I remembered–Candice. She would be awake already. The last thing in the world that I wanted was to deal with her, but we were all the family she had left. Swinging my feet onto the floor, I began making the bed. The crumbs from our late-night snack were all over the sheets and I smiled. I whispered my gratitude for this opportunity to rejoice in my circumstances, stalled a little more by tidying a few things that didn’t need tidying, and went upstairs. As I neared the top I felt a small rising panic, so I slowed my breathing and squeezed the banister. Help me. I walked into the kitchen, trying to smile.

“Good morning.” I said to Candice who was waiting expectantly at the kitchen bar.

“A little early for you, is it Barbara?” Candice asked, her eyes somehow simultaneously exultant and disappointed.

“No, it’s not. I’m sorry I took so long. Would you like some coffee?” My heart did not ache the way I thought it would to be humble with this woman.

“If it’s not going to be awful.”

Help me. I asked again, biting my tongue and grabbing the coffee beans. How will I last these next six months?


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