24 September 2015 – They step in the house together. Peter holding the screen door for Delilah. Pulling it to behind them. Her arm about his waist. His arm around her shoulders.
A reticence to let the moment go.
The foyer speaks volumes. Flattened cardboard boxes, rolls of packing tape, black garbage bags, a corded stack of newspaper. All of it against the wall of the stairs. On the bottom step a dufflebag and a knapsack, stuffed and ready to go.
Delilah shuffles to the open doorway on the left. Packed boxes on the floor and in the centre of the room an assembled mass of furniture and dismantled shelving.
‘Bit of an eyesore,’ says Peter, standing behind her, hand on newel post.
Delilah looks about the room. There are memories here. Close to being ghosts.
‘It’s all gotta go. Like I was saying on the phone. Won’t have the space.’
Peter scratches his head. Relates details about Mary’s condition in short sentences. The chemo. Their commutes. Her fatigue. No longer being able to get upstairs. Moving her to a home.
Delilah interrupts, ‘Have you got someone to help with packing?’
‘The auction house is sending out a crew tomorrow. And the next day if needed.’
‘Seems a lot of stuff.’
‘A lifetime’s worth.’
‘You holding up okay?’
‘Well as I can.’
They cross the foyer to sitting room on other side of stairs. Untouched. Two couches. An easy chair. Coffee table. Side tables. Video game controls. TV in corner by front door. Fireplace. Mantel. Framed photos everywhere.
‘The worst is done,’ says Peter.
Goes on to describe selling farm. One fell swoop. Needed the money. Offer too good to refuse. Everything he’d ever done up in smoke. The guttwrenching truth of having now to sell what little remains. Including the house. To move in to town. Commute wearing him out. Feels need to be near Mary. For however long she has left.
Delilah’s circled the sitting room. Comes back to Peter. Whose final words on the matter come without emotion.
‘Nothing here for us. Anymore. We done our missing.’
He looks drained.
She touches his arm. Cups a hand over her mouth. Her face is distraught with guilt and apology. Saying more than any words.