Dust

The empty glass is still on the table, out of place in the tidy kitchen. Rose imagines a ring will mark its place now. She hasn’t wiped the table for days. She sits in the chair opposite. He would be far away by now. Rose drifts back in time.

“Excuse me, Mam. I was wondering if you had a bit of work. I’m short a few dollars.” He had indicated with a nod in the direction of the train station. Times were hard. She often had men down on their luck offering to chop wood, fix fences. She said, “Of course,” and pointed out the broom before turning back into the kitchen to catch her breath.

His familiar voice was deep and melodic. He had a limp that twisted his body but he’d swept the porch and sidewalk efficiently. She watched from the upstairs window while changing out of her house dress and combing her hair, surprised to see the aged woman in the mirror. His presence evoked a youthful vigor not reflected. He hadn’t recognized her but she wasn’t surprised.

Now, she reaches across the table and lifts the glass. There is a shiny ring left there, a circle unaffected by time and its debris. It shines within her as well. Rose turns the tumbler and places her lips where his had been.

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