The room was quiet save for the rhythmic ticking of a metronome. A tawny calico dozed across the closed fall board of the piano, its tail in a synchronized dance with the pendulum. Glimmering dust motes played in the sunlight streaming through the oriel windows.
Cora carried a crystal vase from the kitchen where she arrange the bouquet of wildflowers. Setting the vase on the piano, she made a few more adjustments, then stepped back to admire her work.
Wiping her hand on her stiffly starched, white apron, she looked around the room for anything out of place. She wanted everything to be perfect when he arrived. Checking her hair in the foyer mirror, Cora patted her chignon, taming any fly-away strands.
Her hands fluttering with nervous excitement, Cora couldn’t untie the bow on her apron and became flustered. With tears threatening, she leaned against the hallway wall. After a few seconds, she gathered herself and slipped the bow’s knot. Chuckling at her schoolgirl butterflies, Cora hung up the apron on the coat rack, and smoothed her skirt and the collar of her blouse. She then pinched her cheeks to raise a blush of color.
It was cool in the house, fall had come in with wind and rain, chasing the sun away. This was the first clear day in weeks. She sat in her old stuffed chair, awash in a flood of sunlight. She only meant to close her eyes for a moment.
In her dream, she was young again and walking in golden wheat fields with Wesley, so handsome in his Army uniform. Her head resting on his shoulder they spoke of their life together when he returned from war.
A knock at her door roused Cora from her sleep.
Stiff from sitting so long, it was a slow walk to greet her visitor. Smiling wide, Cora opened the door to a young woman dressed in khakis and a blue polo shirt, the insignia of her Home Health Corp. embroidered on the sleeve.
“Good afternoon, Cora,” the woman said, entering the house with her medical case.
Cora lingered, searching outside for any sign of Wesley.
Noticing the vase of dried and faded flowers, the woman ushered Cora into the house.
“Did you see Wesley today?” The woman hooked her arm around Cora’s shoulders.
“Not today Sweetie,” Cora said, caressing the vase like a talisman. “But, he’ll be coming home soon.”
“I’m sure he will Miss Cora,” the woman said. “Now, did you eat anything today?”
Cora allowed the younger woman to lead her into the kitchen with one last longing glance over her shoulder at the vase of flowers.