Something made Molly look up; a hint of hope in the sky, perhaps. Someone was hovering up there. They floated like an autumn leaf, ambling its way from branch to ground. Pinks and purples and a hint of blue worn by the human under the silken sheets. It was an otherwise grey sky. It wasn’t really the afternoon for skydiving. It was bleak. Dark. Depressing. It was the day that Harrold had died.
Molly had spent all night at the hospital, though mostly just in the hall, waiting. Waiting for news. She’d known it was touch and go, that probably he wouldn’t make it through the night. It hadn’t made it any easier. She wished the nurse told her when he was done fighting, she wished they’d stopped working on him, trying to make him live right up until the end; then maybe she could have sat with him, held his hand, kissed him farewell one more time.
If, if if. If and only: the words go together so easily and yet, she knew, they could kill. Kill the spirit. Kill the soul. KIll a person who hasn't finished living yet.
Molly brought the bedsheet down off the line, struggling to fold it on her own. Usually Harrold would help. She managed the two steps into the laundry unaided. She threw the sheet and it floated down over the double bed, and had to walk around to tuck in both sides. She glanced at her watch: 3pm. Cup of tea time, Harrold. She fumbled to find the kettle’s cord and plug it in. The teabags - where were the teabags now? She went to the cupboard and reached for the sugar bowl.
The sound of the bowl crashing reached her ears before she realised she’d dropped it. Methodically, she cleaned it up without thinking; she couldn’t allow herself to realise she didn’t know if Harrold put sugar in her tea any more.
So much to do. And nothing to do at all.
There was a knock at the door. Molly could hear their voices, the little ones. She opened it and there they were, smiling, a big pot of soup in the oldest one’s hands. Little Sarah, in a bright pink dress, had Vegemite smothered across her face. Her twin, Bindy, was wearing the purple jumper Molly had knit her last winter.
‘Hi Mum,’ her daughter-in-law said, softly.
‘Barbie, kids. Please come in.’ She fumbled with the lock.
‘You know we can’t, Mum.’ Barbie’s eyes erupted with silent tears. ‘It’s not safe, for us or you. We’ll Zoom later, okay? At tea time, and have the soup together? Max wants to see you. He wasn’t up to -’
Molly nodded. Fought back a tear.
Her oldest granddaughter, Maggie, placed the soup on the doorstep, a little bit spilling on her pale blue dress.
Molly’s mouth curved upwards, though you’d hardly call it a smile, and nodded. ‘Yes, of course. Zoom. We’ll see you later, on Zoom.’