Dorothy had stripped the bed, covered furniture with dust sheets and then left the room untouched for nearly two decades. Since that awful morning, when she had brought coffee up to Nate, after she herself had spent a restless night in Rebecca's room, jerking awake with each wrenching cry from her suffering daughter, Dorothy had determined to forge a life alone.
Nate like that, unresponsive, empty, had left her resigned that love could go at any time. She gathered all her maternal forces and gripped Rebecca to her side for years, until now, finally, her beautiful daughter was ready to venture into the world again.
"I'll go with you Mom," promised Rebecca.
"All right dear, we'll do it Saturday morning, bright and early."
They began their assault in good spirits, carefully setting aside Dorothy's fortress of canned preserves to free a path up the stairs. Their shoulders rubbed as they walked hip-to-hip down the abandoned hallway, mouse turds scattered over the long oriental runner and wallpaper peeling to reveal layers of more wallpaper.
"We really need to clean this place up," said Dorothy, trying to sound chipper and efficient. She
twisted the knob and the door swung open easily,
without a creak. Rebecca flipped the light
switch to reveal a forlorn and dusty room, smelling of must and faintly, Nate's pipe tobacco. Both women sighed sadly, then moved to the antique dressing table. Dorothy pulled off a silk shawl that covered the oval mirror and busily folded it into a neat triangle. Rebecca picked up the rosewood box, well-remembered from her childhood when sorting through her mother's jewelry boxes was a treat. She opened the box and pulled out the heavy strand of pearls, looped shut with a gold clasp. "They're very
she said, "Prettier than I remember," and immediately fell into a revery of dining by candlelight with Tark, the pearls glowing around her neck.
Dorothy gently pushed Rebecca on to the dressing table stool and fastened the pearls so she could see them in the mirror. "You'll look like a princess, I mean, professional woman, successful professional woman," said Dorothy. Rebecca dwelt with that image for a moment and then the sadness of the room reflected in the spotted mirror transformed to the hell where first Jeff and then Angie were pushed into the shack.
"Go get him, faggot!" yelled
J.D.'s buddies, swigging from cans of beer and laughing hilariously. Angela, high on shared weed and pills, had ambled into the shack, convinced by giggling girls that someone special was waiting for her there. And that torch, that stupid awful torch, made with someone's t-shirt wrapped on a branch, soaked by a gas can, lighting the revelry as the teens moved away from the bonfire, and towards the old wood shack, it's planks dry as tinder, dry as bone.
"Rebecca, let's go," urged Dorothy, her voice alarmed. Rebecca had that look again, one that could only be quelled by medication. The rosewood box dropped to the floor as Rebecca stood. Dorothy picked it up and noticed the familiar hieroglyphics scratched on it's underside. She placed it firmly on the dressing table and hustled her daughter out of the gloomy room.