The Odour of Chrysanthemums – Next Morning!
Elizabeth woke up from her land of dreams to the great hurt of reality. The bright dazzling light of the Sun blinded her eyes as it came through the little space between the curtains. Her face was pale with dry lips and blood shot eyes. The air was damp, tense and heavy. Finally after being lazy, she kicked off her blanket and wore her brown stained gown.
Her eyes were transfixed to the top right hand corner of the room. She watched the green water patch spread across the wall on the flower-patterned wallpaper. She sighed, nodded in discontent and trod towards the door. The carpet was damp, her heavy footsteps caused the water in the carpet to splash out and wet her feet.
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On the wall there was a picture of Walter. Elizabeth stepped up to the picture, took it off its wall holder and threw it across the room into a wall. The glass shattered and the delicate wooden frame got damaged. Elizabeth quickly straightened herself and walked towards the broken picture frame. She gently lifted out the picture of Walter and placed to one side. She picked up the shattered pieces of glass, each piece separately. She squeezed her hand tightly until she drew blood. The colour of the blood reminded her of the red cheeks of Walter. She put the glass pieces and the wooden frame in to the small metal bin in the corner of the room.
Elizabeth wiped her hand on her brown stained gown, it was now blood stained. She picked up the picture of Walter from the side. She sat down in the corner of the room and curled up into a ball. She held the picture of Walter up in front of her and then held it against her bosom and said,
“If only you were here, it would be a lot easier.”
She sat there weeping until a sudden tap came at the door.
“Who is it?” said Elizabeth quickly wiping her tears and straightening herself up.
“It’s me mum, John. I was wondering if dad came home yesterday and what he was doing.”
The mother stood erect and opened the door, she said to John in a kind but stern voice,
“John come in. I have to tell you something.”
John sat on the chair in the corner of the room. He took out his knife and his white piece of wood and started carving. As his mother had plucked up enough courage to tell him about his father, she looked at what the boy was doing and she went blank. It reminded her of Walter mining for coal, the knife as a pickaxe and the piece of wood as the coal. The expression on the boys face reminded her of her husband, broad at the cheeks and thin at the chin, with blonde hair and blue eyes.
“J, J, John.”
” I need to tell you something about your father. He has died in an accident in the mine.”
John stood silent. He waited until the news had sunk in then all of a sudden he started crying. He held his arms out wide for a hug of comfort. They hugged each other for a moment, and then Elizabeth let go and wiped the tears of Johns face.
“Off to school. It will take your mind off things.”
John ran out of the room, down the stairs, through the front door and down the road, Elizabeth looking at him as he ran down the road through the window, Elizabeth sighed in discontent. There was a knock at the door then the door opened. The mother-in-law came in with two suitcases and placed them on the floor next to her.
“Elizabeth,” she said,” You are strong. In my eyes you made me think that it was your fault that Walter turned into a drunken beast but I was wrong. You are a true and honest person. Your children are mature for their age. You have one task left and that is to tell Annie about her father.”
“Yes, mother,” said Elizabeth as she turned back towards the window.
” I wanted to tell you something else. I plan to leave you today.”
“Yes, mother,” said Elizabeth.
The mother-in-law picked her suitcases up and walked out. Her taxi was waiting for her outside. She got into the taxi. Her eyes focussed on Elizabeth in the window as the cart drew away, down the road.
Elizabeth heard the scream. It sounded like Annie. Elizabeth ran down the stairs and she dreaded what she saw. She found Annie staring at Walter on the parlour floor. Annie screamed,
“What’s happened to daddy?”
“He’s gone to better place,” said Elizabeth holding back her own tears.
“When can we see him?”
“He will be there if you think of him. He is in your heart.”
Elizabeth took Annie to the front door and said,
“You will feel better if you have breath of fresh air.”
Annie ran out into the fields until she finally disappeared into the distance. Elizabeth took out the picture of Walter from her gown pocket walked into the living room, sat on her husbands straw rocking chair. She held the picture as hard as she could, close to her bosom, and drifted off to sleep.