The solid thud of the thick oak door met her ears with familiar resonance. The tall window, a glistening mass of cobweb, cast a crisp shard of light over the hallway, the only light in an otherwise dark home. Slow nowadays, she could only creep up the stairs.
Pushing at the white-painted door drew a lonely creak. Although the sensation of doing so felt comforting, she no longer knew why. Stepping inside, she laid eyes upon a bed: his bed, her bed, their bed. A bed she had not seen for years.
It was as if her lover had left only yesterday. Bedclothes lay unruffled, at ease, while the pillows rested, smooth, where their own heads once had. Moving closer, she ran a frail, parchment-white hand along the covers. The cautious touch sent shy shimmers of remembrance about her. In a blissful instant, crisp fabric became rigid uniform, the spongy mattress the enduring comfort of his embrace.
Sitting now, she looked. The tall wardrobe bore a worn varnish: its past forgotten, its structure everlasting. Her mirror, ornamented with the relics and treasures of a long-gone life, stood as it always had, this time reflecting an older face. The books, sat in silence, watched the woman from their dusty ledge.
Closed eyes and a faint smile across cracked lips accompanied her reminiscence. The room had come alive at her return.
As her eyes opened, her conscience shifted slightly. The room was not quite as she had left it.
On the bedside lay a watch; not his watch – the regal medallion of an officer – but a lifeless thing of mandatory function. Its thin leather strap was smooth to touch, yet impersonal, forgettable. A new picture hung on the wall, framing an elderly lady with a – very alike and far more beautiful – younger woman.
To her left, a small pile of bags and belongings looked across at her knowingly. Whose belongings, she pondered, her whispers echoing into the silence.