Kerry fussed with little picture frames on the table. She looked at herself in the mirror and rolled her lips together so the color was even. She lit two candles and opened a window. She had put an Isley Brothers record on the turntable. It was the last record she could remember her mother playing before they gave up on her father coming home. Since then the music stopped, the light couldn't penetrate the curtains and laughter left this room never to return. The walls were decorated with photos from Gretna's past, intermingled with photos of Kerry, her children and one photo in the back of the father of her boys.
"A house with no fathers." She said to herself.
The walls had been painted a mint green and Roscoe helped her put new fabric on the old couch. She liked the old kitchen counters and they cleaned up nice. Despite the burnt circle in the center (Kerry called the tattoo) it was still in good shape and the old maple had a deep honey color. The cabinets looked better after Roscoe put new hinges and hardware on them and they worked fine. She was afraid to make too many changes for fear of overwhelming Gretna. She made all her decorating decisions based on memories of happier times and how it looked in her mind. Kerry paid for the gravel drive and most of the material's with the money Roscoe gave her for that old Bus. She gave up her rented house and moved here with the boys. Her mother was going to need help and Kerry held out her last scrap of hope that this was the one chance had at being a family. The grass was starting to come in and the tress and bushes were all trimmed back and manicured. The front of the house stood proud and painted against all the heartache it had held behind the walls inside. The walls of wood and plaster sealed in trauma that never aged, healed or lost its energy to torment the holder of the memories.
She wished Roscoe was there but he had decided to be absent for Gretna's first day. How could anyone do so much good and not want to see the moment when the gratitude came? He was always there working on this or that in the morning and he hummed old songs while he worked. Every three days or so he would ask Kerry if he was in the way, or if she minded him coming the next day. Kerry would laugh and tell him she hoped he would. They made little decisions based on paint they found or the old wheel barrel they turned into a planter. Even the old mangy dog had recovered at the hands of Roscoe. He sat for his first bath without struggle and looked up as Roscoe sang to him and poured water from an old cup. He trusted Roscoe and followed him around the property, always staying within petting distance of his savior.
Kerry took a Lexipro pill from the bottle she found on a table at Cabo's. She was in dire need the day she found prescription bottle, with the name scratched off. She thought it was that guy that ate alone all the time. The band guy that never said anything except what he wanted to eat. He always seemed to be watching people in the place, or surfing on the TVs. He wrote in a blue note book and tipped well. He always came early and usually left in a half hour. The same guy from the hospital. He was funny sometimes too, but mostly he just sat and ate. She found a note by the bottle:
"I heard you say you needed these. I do not take them anymore. I hope they help."
The note was written neatly on a napkin in all capital letters. There were fifty pills in the bottle enough to last her for almost three months. The label had the presciption number scratched off but the dosage and drug name were still there, as if to put her at ease they were safe.
"For The Love Of You" came on the stereo, and Kerry fell back into the old couch. Why couldn't she ever get over anything? She still missed him after all these years. She still felt the cold chill run down her stomach when she saw her boys watching other kids with their Dads. She had moments of pause where the burden left her, but then a song, smell, or distant memory would hit her and the great weight returned again. She danced with him in her mind, in that little house, before he left, before the plane went down, before the light went out inside her. There was a part of her that never wanted the sadness to abate. The aching was the shadow of her old love and she didn't want to let go of the dark outline of what she once had. It was the last silhouette of him, and she held vigil in private silence. It was a haven and a prison she retreated to, as a way to hang onto the last of him. She wondered if it was killing her in little pieces, and if she might fade away entirely.
She heard the gravel crunching under the tires, and saw the van from the hospital. She lifted the needle and moved it back to the beginning. She scanned the room, and hung the dish towel over the sink. She was moving forward, and she hoped maybe Gretna would too.