The next day I get to work on cleaning out Danielle’s cupboards. I asked Rose if she wanted to help, but she had already made plans to go out with her friends.
“Tayla?” I had asked as we sat around the table munching on our cereal. I yawn a bit, too. We had stayed up late watching a movie like we used to do when Danielle was alive. We did it maybe once a month, or, when she’d manage to drag me away from work for a few hours. Rose and I had eaten ice-cream cake as we did.
“Yeah and some people from school,” Rose had shrugged. “We’re going bowling. Is that okay?”
“I don’t see why not. Just ask me in future, okay?”
I’m kind of glad that Rose chose to go out. I guess it’s the selfishness inside of me that wants to keep Danielle all to myself, even from our own daughter.
It’s a slow process, mainly because I spend ages inhaling each article, sighing blissfully at the pleasurable smell of my wife. My body aches to have her in my arms again, to hold her and make love to her. Usually we were too tired to do it, but when we did, it was amazing. Even now, I can feel my body reacting to the idea. I’m slightly embarrassed, but I know there’s no reason to be.
I sort her clothes into two piles. One, to give away. Two, to keep packed away and stored in the cupboards. They include her wedding dress and other items that I knew to be her favourite and were my personal favourites as well. I had asked Rose if she wanted any kept for her, but she told me no. It’d be too sad for her to wear her dead mother’s clothing.
When I’m done, I carry the boxes down the stairs to put in the car, ready to take to the church the next day. The churches are in charge of running any thrift shops that provide to those in the poorer communities of the city. They will, I’m sure, appreciate the donation.
The next day at church, I spend the whole service feeling guilty as the pastor moves across the platform, preaching to the crowd. I pretend to listen, but deep down inside I’m battling feeling. Most people that attend this church are true believers, utterly devoted to their Bibles and God. I’m not sure how they will handle the loss of what they call their personal life-line. I’d essentially be stealing their whole life meaning.
I remind myself it’s for the greater good and it’s not really me that’s doing it. This does little to appease me.
As expected, the church welcomes the boxes with great delight although they try to hide it out of respect for Rose and myself. Not many people donate anymore because the majority that attend church are the poorer of the city. Plus, there’s not many Christians anymore after so many fights and arguments. The hatred the unbelievers gave to the believers were enough to convert so many because they couldn’t deal with the persecution. After the boundaries and borders were built, things settled down a little, but there was still enough tension to keep a divide.
Sadly, people don’t want others to be unique. Everyone wants their own clones, myself, I admit, included.
After church, Rose and I stop by the gallery. As requested by Kirsty, we let ourselves in by the backdoor.
Even though the destruction from the attack has been cleared, it feels like the destruction is written across the bright, pristine walls. We make our through the back kitchen where Danielle would take her breaks and make herself coffees to the showcase room.
I remember years ago when Danielle first purchased the building, the first thing she did was have all the walls knocked down except for the back room’s, to create one big open studio.
This is the place where she would advertise her artwork and display it for those coming in to shop around. This was before I worked so many hours at Telcorp and as I stare around the room, I remember helping her paint the walls.
The same walls that will now forever hold her destruction, just like her joy.
“None of these are mum’s,” Rose tells me as she walks around the room, expecting the paintings. “They’re all Kirsty’s or Samantha’s. I’m guessing that’s the art graduate.”
“They must be upstairs,” I tell her and head toward the staircase in the back corner.
Sure enough, we find her paintings against the back wall. The rest of the room is filled with art supplies including easels, paints and tarps. I tell Rose not to touch any of the paintings, just in case they’re still wet.
“I’m not stupid dad,” she rolls her eyes but smiles a little.
“I know,” I kiss her forehead and try to chuckle lightly. It comes out more like a sob than anything else though. These walls hold so many of our treasured memories together.
Rose and I get to work selecting different paintings. Not surprisingly, we end up taking as many as our car can hold. Neither of us are prepared to let any of Danielle’s work go. It feels wrong even thinking about it.
“We’ll have to do two trips,” I tell Rose breathlessly. I’m attempting to cart one of the bigger pieces down to the car but it doesn’t want to cooperate with me. Without me asking, Rose takes the other end to help me.
“We can come back next week sometime,” she says thoughtfully. “Kirsty shouldn’t mind if we take two trips.”
After a few more trips up and down the stairs, we’re fairly sure the car can’t carry much more. There’s only a few left, but they’ll have to wait for another day.
At home I hammer more hooks into the walls throughout the house. Rose requests I put a few up in her room and I do that first so she can start hanging up her favourite pieces. I hammer a few into the walls of my bedroom as well before moving down the halls and in all the rooms so we can establish her artwork in every room: so we may be always reminded of her beauty.
By the time darkness comes to settle, we are hanging up the final pieces in the kitchen. Rose hangs the final one above the kitchen window and we step back to inspect the handiwork.
Although nothing can compare to the beauty Danielle could bring to a room when she smiled, I feel like the paintings have brought her presence into each room again.
“It feels like mum’s here,” Rose voices my thoughts as she rests her head on my chest and I give her a reassuring hug,
“She’s always here, sweetheart.”
I sleep well and deeply that night, getting over ten hours sleep. My body is starting to adapt to the new time schedules that it’s being put through which is a relief. Still, I feel bad for going to sleep on Rose so early in the night. She didn’t seem to mind though as she was messaging her friends on the social media sensation, Screenchat. Another creation of Telcorp, it replaced the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, combining the three into one big internet sensation.
It’s enough to keep Rose happy.
As planned, Thomas visits me the next morning, not long after office hours commence. The first thing he does is point to the closed door he just came through.
“Who is that office girl?”
I chuckle at him and gesture for him to sit down. I had another chair brought up especially for his visit. I’m hoping I’ll be able to keep it in here for any other office visitors I might have. If not, I’ll have to ask Elaine to order me one.
“Her name is Elaine Robertson. She’s being working here for a few years now. Have you never been in this part of the building before?”
Thomas still looks dazed, like he’s seen the most beautiful creature in the world. I have to wonder if that’s what I looked like when I first saw Danielle.
“I have,” he stammers. “I’ve just never seen.. her.”
“Would you like me to introduce you to her when we’re done here? She’s single.”
Thomas looks torn and excited at the same time and I lean towards him across the desk.
“It’s worth a shot, mate. She’s a great girl.”
After a pause, Thomas nods quickly and pushes his file towards me.
“These here are the details on the new product idea I’m working on. It’s called the Robocop Pest Controller. It is what the title says.” He pauses and then asks. “So she’s single then.”
“That sounds rather cool,” I flip open the folder and start flicking through it. I keep my eyes on the pages, but I’m sure he can hear the smile in my voice. “She has been for a few years.”
“I would have though a beautiful woman like that would be taken already.”
“Tell her that and you might just win her over.”
He looks like he’s about to throw up, but smiles anyway.
After we organise a layout idea for me to start drafting on, I take him out to meet Elaine. We wait at my door as she converses with someone on the phone until she’s finished.
“Who’s this?” Elaine asks politely once she’s done. “I don’t think I’ve seen you before.”
“This is Thomas, he’s one of Telcorps finest geniuses.”
Thomas elbows me lightly and Elaine’s eyes widen a little.
“Geniuses don’t usually come in here.”
“I needed Jonathan’s help,” Thomas explains and steps closer to the desk. I can almost visibly see the nerves disappearing. “I’ve been here a few times over the few years I’ve been here but I don’t think I’ve ever seen you. What’s your name?”
“Elaine Robertson,” she shakes his hand. “It’s nice to meet you Thomas.”
“Likewise,” he gives her a prize winning smile.
“Is there anything you needed help with?” her eyes flicker from me to him. “I’d be happy to assist.”
“I just wanted to introduce myself,” Thomas tells her shyly.
Elaine looks taken aback and looks down shyly. I decide now would be a good time to disappear back into the office.
Neither of them see me leave.
I try reading through the file on the Robocop Pest Controller, but the phone rings, signalling the start of a busy day. As requested, Elaine must have got the brochures out and as always, interested customers are placing their queries and even a few orders.
After the second call, Thomas reappears with a smile spread across his face.
“Good news I’m guessing?” I peer at him over my laptop.
“I’m going to pick her up tonight and take her out for dinner.”
“Good going, man. You’re lucky to have her.”
“I don’t have her yet,” Thomas shrugs but I only snicker at him.
The phone rings again and he disappears.
Later that day I’m sitting in the lounge room reading through the paper when a knock sounds on the door. I look down at my watch before jumping to my feet. It’ll be Rosemary Bownds, the possible nanny. Sure enough when I open the door I find the same face from the application, smiling up at me. After introducing myself, I let her inside.
Rosemary, although old, looks to be strong and fit. Most people are curled over at the back from years of hard work at her age, but instead she stands tall. Today she’s dressed in a billowy black skirt with a basic loafers and a white blouse tucked in at the waist. She wears a scarf over the hair which extends in silver strands past her shoulders.
I lead her towards the kitchen.
“Would you like a drink? I have tea and coffee here of if you’re after something a bit colder I have some soft drink that I keep handy for special guests that might arrive.
“No thank you dear,” she shakes her head as her eyes peer around the kitchen. “You have quite a beautiful house if I might say.”
“Thank you. My wife designed it herself and put particular effort into the kitchen to get it perfect.”
“The kitchen is the woman’s abode in any house. She made it perfectly.”
I set down a plate of biscuits before taking a seat across from her at the table.
“As you can see this is quite a big place,” I tell her. “I really don’t have the time to keep it in top shape and condition as I’m always working in some way or another. Rose, my teenage daughter, is studying at high school and with exams coming up, I can’t really expect her to manage the house on her own.”
“I understand,” Rosemary nods and nibbles at one of the biscuits. She reminds me of my own mother: delicate and kind. “As you can tell, I’m getting quite old. I enjoy doing housework, but I can’t do any hard work.”
“I understand,” I nod eagerly. “If I can’t get around to looking after the yard, I’ll find someone to come and mow the lawn every now and then.”
She nods in agreement.
“How many hours would you like me to work each week?” she asks. “What duties are involved with the maintaining of the house?”
“Actually,” I lean back in my chair and cross my hands on my lap. Under the table, I cross my fingers. “I was wondering if you would be interested in moving in here and living permanently with us.”
She looks taken aback by my question, so I continue.
“Rose is a young girl, too young to be without some sort of mother figure giving her advice and help her mature into a lovely lady. I wish I could provide that to her, but, that’s simply not going to happen as you can tell.”
Rosemary nods in agreement.
“A young girl needs someone to look up to. If they’re not given one, they’ll go looking for one and more often than not, it’s someone of bad influence.”
“Exactly. So, if you would agree to living with us, I would ask you to be a friend and influence to my daughter.”
“I’m not sure,” she looks down and fidgets with her fingers. “I don’t know about moving in.”
“I’d pay you not only to do the housework, but to live here with us as well. However, I can understand completely if you don’t want to move in.”
“I’ve recently lost my husband,” she explains to me. “I’ve moved in with my son to be close to my loved ones in this tough time.”
“I understand. I’ve only recently lost my wife in an attack as well.”
“I’m aware of the accident,” she reaches across the table and rests her hand on mine. “Losing a loved one is tough. I can’t begin to imagine how hard it’s been on you not only to cope with the loss of your wife, but trying to raise your daughter as well.”
“It hasn’t been to hard yet,” I shrug a little. “But I’m sure as time goes by, it’s going to get a lot harder. She’s already hanging out with some male friends.”
Rosemary laughs a croaky laugh.
“Girls will be girls and boys will be boys. I’ll make a deal with you.”
I lean forward expectantly.
“I’ll move in here for one week and give it a try. If I can’t handle being away from my family, I’ll have to leave. If you’re willing though, I’d still like to do the housework for you to make a little extra money for Josh and his wife. I feel bad that they have to support me.”
I nod in understanding. When the country lost all their money to debt, cutbacks were made on a lot of things, including payments to pensioners and the disabled. Instead, a law was passed that a senior was to move in with their children if their retirement fund was not enough and a disabled was to live with their parents. If they were killed or no longer around, they would be given a place in a retirement or special needs village where they could stay for free. The system was going well, but I can understand the wanting to help out with the financial strain.
“Whatever support you might offer, I will gladly accept it.”
“Thank you, dear,” she smiles at me. “I appreciate your help.”
“The pleasure is mine.”
On her way out, she pauses to inspect the newly hung paintings.
“Your wife was quite the artist,” she comments as she inspects them all closely. “She must have had a brilliant imagination.”
“She did. It always baffled me.”
“Is your daughter an artist as well?”
“She likes to draw.”
Rosemary nods in thought.
“Girls are usually more accustomed to pick up creative genes from their parents, I’ve found in most cases. I look forward to seeing them some time in the future.”
I show her out the door and wave from the porch as she drives away. We agreed that she would move in on Thursday for her trial period. I didn’t want to bribe her away from her family, but I did offer her a significant amount of money on a weekly rate if she were to stay. I just hope it’s enough and my family is enough to give her happiness like I’m sure she’ll give us.