Cassie and Ryan
The early morning light struck Cassie full in the face from the eastern window. Squinting her eyes, she rolled her head toward the wall and away from the light. She lay still and listened to the ticking of the old pendulum clock in the hall. Time ticking by, she lay motionless and breathed in the morning. She closed her eyes and let her thoughts wander back to other mornings. Mornings full of the smell of freshly baking bread and the sharp sounds of her mother’s old wooden heeled shoes clicking on the hardwood floor in the kitchen. The house seemed so empty today, full of nothing but the clock’s tick, tick, tick. She stretched carefully, extending her legs slowly, trying to loosen tight muscles. These aches and pains were always with her now, but the night seemed to deepen their strength. The sunlight on her pillow helped chase the darkness away and brought a slow relaxing of her facial muscles.
She sat up slowly and put her feet into the slippers she placed beside the bed each night. Her morning ablutions included a round of pills, weighed foods and insulin. The dimly lit kitchen smelled of pine and bleach. The broken oven generated no warmth and promised no homey smells. The light from the new refrigerator hurt her eyes as she reached for the prescribed glass of orange juice. She drank the pulpless juice, washed the glass and carefully replaced it on the freshly scrubbed shelf. Only then did she begin to dress herself for the morning’s errands.
Today could be special, she thought as she selected a simple pink blouse. To complement the blouse, she wore a white straw hat. She loved hats, always had, and this one reminded her of one she wore on her wedding day. She remembered her long, blond hair and how Ryan loved to touch it. Now it was short, the blond turned silver. The curls though, were still natural. She smiled at her reflection and watched the wrinkles deepen around her grey eyes. Yes, she thought, today could be special.
She picked up her pocketbook and ceremoniously counted out her money. She never counted money in public places. She wanted to be sure she had plenty to buy a dress. The shiny new stores held no attraction for her. She liked Weiners. She had shopped at Weiners since 1952. Although it was years ago, she still hated the fact that they quit selling material. She would rather sew her own clothes, but she knew there was no use worrying about it now. A dress in the window that caught her eyes a few days ago “had her name on it,” as she was prone to say. It was a deep dusty rose color with small white flowers arranged just so on the skirt. The square cut white collar, with its tiny fringe of lace, suited her sensibilities. She knew she would not mind ironing the seemingly hundreds of tiny pleats in that skirt. This would, in fact, be a pleasure. She enjoyed ironing, it reminded her of past times spent ironing Ryan’s clothes.
She drove to the strip center in her old white Dodge with the license plate that read “CASEE”. Her daughter offered to accompany her, but she chose to go alone. Gripping the steering wheel, she remembered riding in an old buggy on a dirt road. At Weiners, she enjoyed the cool, refrigerated air and felt better. The store smelled familiar. The orderly rows of clean shirts and skirts pleased her. The saleswoman wa...