In the ensuing silence, I turned and walked back to the front room where I picked up my suitcase and took it into the master bedroom, laying it on the bed and began unpacking my clothes. I had purposely not moved into the house before our marriage. In my old-fashioned way, it seemed important to me that there be no appearance of living together before the wedding. I did this because of my children, and I did it because I never wanted John’s four children to think less of me. Yes, I brought my sons’ clothing and some of their toys to the house before we left for Hawaii, but that was because they were being cared for by our new co-joined family.
Preoccupied with thoughts about Deena firing the housekeeper, I pulled open one of the dresser drawers. It was filled with woman’s clothing. I opened another and then another, until all the drawers were open and all were filled to overflowing with outdated clothing. It was then that I opened the closet. If Gloria’s mummified body had tumbled out, I wouldn’t have been more stunned. No one, it seemed, had had the foresight to clean out the closets or drawers—not my step-daughter who lived in the house, or my two older stepsons and their wives.
For some unknown reason, I moved dreamlike through the small dressing area into the master bathroom, where the decor was a ghastly cotton candy pink—the tile, shower curtain, and rug. I had seen it, naturally, when I visited the house and mentally logged it as one of the first things to be changed but I had never really looked in the bathroom. When I pulled open the two drawers they were filled with Gloria’s make-up. Under the sink were more personal things, like a douche bag. I went back into the dressing area, where an out-of-style froufrou dressing table and bench filled the area against the wall, opposite the closet stuffed with Gloria’s clothes. Perfume bottles littered the top of the table.
I sat down on the bench, my hands trembling. At that moment, I realized the world had turned three times on its axis since Gloria’s death, but my husband and his children had not moved on and Gloria remained in the master suite.
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