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“She left 10 years ago and never returned,” I said while looking down at the bag he was carrying.
“Oh, I’m…I’m sorry to hear that, Mr. Allen,” the man replied as he carefully set down my luggage inside the cabin. I gave him a small tip and went inside.
I didn’t know what coming here would accomplish, exactly, but the last thing I wanted was to be reminded by others of my wife. I rarely thought about her these days, and yet everywhere I went people reminded me of her for me. Maybe it was my fault, as I still wore my wedding ring, but it’s my right to do with it as I please.
Sitting on the bed, I couldn’t help but inventory the room, comparing it to what it looked like in my memory. I was older now, but still young enough to remember much of that time. But, still, the room wasn’t the focus of my previous trip, and it certainly wasn’t the focus of this one.
Fortunately the man had set my bag down close to the bed. I unzipped the small, red bag, releasing a slight scent of her makeup and perfume. Clangs of metal rang through the sides of a smaller, ruffled bag as I opened it and dumped its contents on the bed. Almost child-sized tools now littered the floral pattern of the comforter.
I gathered the tools and bag, and went into the bathroom, stopping immediately as I was blinded by the light. After taking a moment to regain my vision, I noticed how the bathroom had changed very little compared to the décor of the rest of the cabin.
Looking in the partially-polished mirror, my reflection showed my aged face quite badly. Maybe I just hadn’t noticed at home or perhaps even ignored it, having seen it every morning by itself for the past 10 years. Or maybe the lighting was just better here, and I had much less to think about being in a cabin all by myself.
The shower hadn’t changed one bit, which was what I had been hoping. The showerhead was still rusted — maybe even a little more rusted now — and it even had the same shower curtains. Or at least the same design, anyhow.
I set the bag on the top of the toilet seat. I picked up the small chisel and small hammer, and stepped into the shower. It didn’t take but a few seconds to see the newer caulking around the large piece of white tile just a few inches away from the bottom of the showerhead. I raised the chisel to its edge and gently hammered the caulking until it was released from the wall, allowing me to peel the adhesive and tile away without any damage to the rest of the yellow-stained wall. I took the piece of tile and rested it on the box of tissues sitting atop the toilet’s tank.
Stepping out of the shower, I moved the bag to the floor so I would have somewhere to sit and work for a little while. I took a smaller chisel and a suede cloth out of the bag, and neatly laid out the cloth on the marble-looking bathroom counter, exposing an old, worn tile much like the piece I had just removed from the shower wall. I turned it over, resting it on its face and began chiseling a perfectly round groove within the tile.
It took several hours of painstaking and heartbreaking work, but once finished I took off the wedding ring I hadn’t been without since her accident the day after our wedding. After feeling its rough and tarnished edges from years of hurt, sorrow, and depression, I carefully squeezed a bit of glue into the channel and gently set the ring in its rightful place. As years of tears streamed down my face and through my fingers, I added the remaining glue and fit the tile into the space from which she and I first took it 10 years ago. “Happy anniversary, Anna,” I barely said through my trembling lips.
I left the cabin with a vow never to return.
T.B.H. Ames authors novels, screenplays, an educational children’s series, and is a published poet. He is also an interdisciplinary innovator and inventor. He can be found on the Web at TBHAmes.com
- Fiction: Foxes by CL Bledsoe (pittsburghflashfictiongazette.com)
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