Roses Part 1
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Sophie's face faded into the grey winter light
of the sitting room. She dozed off in the armchair
that Joe had bought for her on their fortieth anniversary.
The room was warm and quiet. Outside it was snowing
At a quarter past one the mailman turned into the
corner onto Allen Street. He was behind on his route,
not because of the snow, but because it was Valentine's
Day and there was more mail than usual. He passed
Sophie's house without looking up. Twenty minutes
later he climbed back into his truck and drove off.
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Sophie stirred when she heard the mail truck pull
away, then took off her glasses and wipe her mouth
and eyes with the handkerchief she always carried
in her sleeve. She pushed herself up using the arm
of the chair for support, straightened slowly and
smoothed the lap of her dark green housedress.
Her slippers made a soft, shuffling sound on the
bare floor as she walked to the kitchen. She stopped
at the sink to wash the two dishes she had left
on the counter after lunch. Then she filled a plastic
cup halfway with water and took her pills. It was
There was a rocker in the sitting room by the front
window. Sophie eased herself into it. In a half-hour
the children would be passing by on their way home
from school. Sophie waited, rocking and watching
The boys came first, as always, runnng and calling
out things Sophie could not hear. Today they were
making snowballs as they went, throwing them at
one another. One snowball missed and smacked hard
onto Sophie's window. She jerked backwards, and
the rocker slipped off the edge of her oval rag
The girls dilly-dallied after the boys, in twos
and threes, cupping their mittened hands over their
mouths and giggling. Sophie wonder if they were
telling each other about the valentine's gifts they
had received at school. One pretty girl with long
brown hair stopped and pointed to her face behind
the drapes, suddenly self-consious. When she looked
out again, the boys and girls were gone. It was
cold by the window, but she stayed there watching
the snow cover the children's footprints
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A florist's truck turned onto Allen Street. Sophie
followed it with her eyes. It was moving slowly.
Twice it stopped and started again. Then the driver
pulled up in front of Mrs. Mason's house next door
and parked. Who would be sending Mrs. Mason flowers?
Sophie wondered. Her daughter in Wisconsin? Or her
brother? No, her brother was very ill. It was probably
her daughter. How nice of her.
Flowers made Sophie think of Joe and, for a moment,
she let the aching memory fill her. Tomorrow was
the fifteenth. Eight months since his death.
The flower man was knocking at Mrs. Mason's front
door. He carried a long white and green box and
a clipboard. No one seemed to be answering. Of course!
It was Friday - Mrs. Mason quilted at the church
on Friday afternoons. the delivery man looked around,
then started toward Sophie's house.
Sophie shoved herself out of the rocker and stood
close to the drapes. The man knocked. Her hands
trembled as she straightened her hair. She reached
her front hall on the third knock.
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