“Call you when we get there!” Sara said. With a wave of her hand and a smile on her face, she skipped out of the front door. Elisa’s smile faded before the door locked. With a sigh, she turned and dragged herself up the wooden stairs. The steps screeched under Elisa’s weight reminding her of a sad song. When she reached the top of the stairs, Elisa felt older than she thought she ever would. She needed to lay down. There was only one room in the house, where she wanted to be right now.
Elisa opened the door to Sara’s sanctuary. On the surface the room looked the same. Sara’s desk was tidy. The bed was made. On the nightstand next to it, lay the leather-bound edition of Romeo and Juliet. Elisa had given it to Sara when she had been unhappily in love for the first time, and wouldn’t talk to Elisa for almost a month. Sara had not thanked her. But she had devoured the book and kept it on her nightstand ever since. Elisa lay down on Sara’s bed. The linen smelled freshly washed still. They had only stayed a night. Elisa took a deep breath hoping to catch an atom of Sara’s scent. When she did, it wasn’t all flowers as it used to be. There was a darker, wooden smell, lurking, like a beast that escaped the forest to hunt in the village. Elisa could not help crying. She took the book from the nightstand and pressed it against her aching heart. When she opened it to read the dedication she once had written for Sara, a fire devoured the her until her insides were all lava ready to erupt. True love will always find you, she had written in delicate letters. Beneath her own handwriting, in a foreign script, someone had scrawled: I did.
How dare he do that? How dare she let him? Elisa was tempted to rip out the whole page. Instead she put the book down calmly, got up and left the room. When she closed the door, it was already decided: She would get rid of it all, redecorate. The room was tainted. Her little girl lost. “Maybe I’ll rent it out to tourists”, she pondered.
“Call you when we get there!” Sara said. With a wave of her hand and a smile on her face, she skipped out of the front door. Before the door locked, Elisa went after her. Sara was already in the car. Elisa was tempted to run after her, hold her tight. Instead, she remained on the porch. She didn’t want to intrude, give them a moment of intimacy. When they drove away, Elisa waved them goodbye until their car turned the corner of the street. Lost in thought, she stood there long after they were gone, enjoying the warm afternoon sun on her skin.
Finally, with a smile she turned and went into the kitchen. The table still bore the marks of breakfast, which had become lunch and then afternoon tea. The clock on the wall was already striking five. Elisa began cleaning up. When it was the Nutella jar’s turn to be put away, she screwed the lid on gently. Sara had told her about this little guilty pleasure of his — and Elisa had bought a giant jar to surprise him. She placed it into the cupboard. She knew the perfect spot for it: Next to the jar of marmalade that Sara liked best. Elisa imagined the smile on Sara’s face when she would open the cupboard during their next visit. Although Thanksgiving was practically around the corner, it seemed an eternity to Elisa. It would be hard to get used to an empty nest. But a nest it would remain. Elisa would make sure of that. She already had another surprise in mind. She would redecorate Sara’s room! While Elisa washed dishes, king-size beds and his and her’s wardrobes were parading through her mind.