by Sharon Willdin
The new moon has cast darkness over my home. I’ve lived here since I was a child. Sixty years ago. A home sealed with squeals, laughter and cries for mom.
I line up the cutlery and perfectly position the crystal glasses for my guests. Thirteen places. One for each. I lay out my finest plates. The bouquets of roses etched on the rims remain vivid, even after all these years. I only ever bring them out on special occasions, and when I do, I always follow mom’s advice and use a gentle detergent to wash,and a soft cloth to dry.
I step back to examine my design. The table sparkles with the promise of new life. I know my grandmother will appreciate seeing the silver-plated candle holders she left to me when she passed.
Outside, it is still and silent. I must wait for the right sign. They are not far away. The wind stirs the leaves in the yellow maple tree. I hear their voices.
I peer out the window. Shades drift down the driveway toward the house. I can see Claire. She clutches Freddie the teddy and holds mom’s hand.
I go to the bathroom. Check my reflection for the last time. Put my hair up in the style Jason likes best. I’ll show him I’m wearing the tear-drop pearl earrings he gave to me for our thirtieth wedding anniversary. My dress is simple and black; the dress I wore when I said goodbye.
Maggie appears as I open the cabinet door to take the pills from the shelf. I feel comforted by her presence. We met at college. Mom said we were inseparable until the car accident. I notice that Maggie still has a fractured skull. Seeing it reminds me of the pain I felt as I watched her take her final breath.
Time to go now, she whispers.
Maggie accompanies me to the kitchen and stands by my side while I turn on the gas. We return to the dining room, arm-in-arm; as if we had never been apart.
I pop the cork from the bottle of cabernet I’ve been saving since 1982. I pour two glasses. She jokes, and we laugh, as I wash down the pills.
At last everyone has arrived.
Sharon Willdin is an emerging and award-winning writer who lives in Sydney, Australia.
Sharon has been published internationally in journals such as Hemingway Shorts, Brooklyn Review, Antithesis Journal, Spineless Wonders, Chicago Literati, Anamesa Journal, Weekend Australian and Open Thought Vortex.
She was a finalist for the Ernest Hemingway Shorts Award 2018, the Joanne Burns Microlit Award 2018, the Woollahra Digital Literary Award 2017, and she won the 2015 Olga Masters’ Short Story Award.
Clowns Anonymous, a film she wrote and produced, premiered at the Noosa International Film Festival in October 2017 and has since been chosen for screening in subsequent international festivals including the Portland Comedy Film Festival 2018.