Reflect on the Rising Sun

by McJude

The old man turned the key in the lock and walked into the foyer. In three hours a real estate agent would be here to appraise and list the condominium. He hadn't really wanted to come back, but knew he had to go through their home one more time.  It was time to sort her things and decide what he wanted to keep -- what he wanted to remember.

Twenty-eight hundred square feet, over three thousand if you counted the decks and the patio, morning sun in the breakfast room, moonlight in the master bedroom and bath, guest suite on its own floor, third bedroom converted to a library/media room, and a gourmet kitchen.  Ocean frontage and the usual  condo-amenities.  It would not be a difficult place to sell; it would just be a difficult place to leave.

He went to the bedroom and sat on the king-sized mahogany sleigh bed.  He would have to start small. He dumped her jewelry box on the bed and sorted through the pieces -- rings, earrings, bracelets, and necklaces, mostly real gold or silver and mostly originally designed. The age and style of the items spanned centuries.

He ran a gold necklace formed of Greek key design pieces over his large hand and felt the warmth and softness of eighteen karat gold. She had bought the necklace on Santorini. They got a great price when the merchant realized that they weren't on a cruise ship, but staying for a month in a villa. They bought the necklace because she had loved it, not for a souvenir.

A tennis bracelet of purple sapphires. She always teased him that she didn't play tennis, but wore it almost all the time until the clasp had broken and she almost lost it. He kept telling himself that he was going to get it fixed, but never had. She asked about it that last week, and he smiled and promised her again. He put it in his pocket and hoped he would remember to drop it off at the jewelers, sometime. . .

Most of the pieces were like that: fine, expensive, yet fraught with meaning. She didn't buy for investment . . . she loved everything they had ever bought together. He spun the wedding ring he wore on his hand around on his finger. Even if he removed it there would be a permanent ring of untanned skin, and a dent in his flesh, that would remind of him of it and her. He decided to wear it a little longer.

The clothes could all go. Someone would have a wonderful day at the thrift shops going through her designer collections that spanned three decades and all of the costumes she had purchased in far away lands. He realized that consignment shops would probably produce a good return, but he wasn't interested in the money. Let someone without the money have a good time, that was what she would have said.

He glanced in the media room and decided quickly that everything there would just to go into storage. Books, and now music and movies in digital format, would last for centuries. They would wait for him to want to see, hear or read them again. Right now they were just more painful memories, but there would come a time when he would want to share them again.

He stopped in the kitchen and opened the cupboard over the sink. He was amazed at the assortment of pill bottles she had kept there. She hadn't wanted them in her bathroom. He wasn't sure why, but allowed her to make that determination herself. He emptied the bottles into the trash; she wouldn't be needing them now. He knew of the two bottles that she had managed to get the doctor to prescribe. Two drugs that did nothing to ameliorate her conditions, but she had been assured, if taken together would cause her death. She had wanted it that way, to keep control. It was her way of telling him that she didn't want to fight it any more; that their life together was over.

It had been a good life, they had had almost forty years after he convinced her to come with him, to share his life, to celebrate together. They had traveled the world and finally settled on this strip of beach where they could walk each morning and reflect on the rising sun.  They had aged together, yet he still remembered how  beautiful she was walking in the morning light. She'd pick up a shell, a piece of glass, a stone, or just walk silently, holding his hand and smiling. God he loved her.

He thought about doing something strange and sentimental like burying her beach clothing in the sand and letting the tide wash it to sea; but realized that the thought was enough, the action would serve no further value.

They had no children, no pets, few friends, only their love. It had been enough. It was all he had ever wanted, and when she finally agreed, all they could forever share.

He ran his hand along the countertop, highly polished black granite, topping cherry cupboards, complimenting the state-of-the-art-appliances and handmade Italian floor tiles. It was a beautiful kitchen. He never totaled up the final cost, because he didn't want to measure love with money. He didn't have to worry about money, and he never did. They just lived. . . until she died. He smashed his fist on the counter, and again, and again.

He glanced down on the expensive Swiss watch he wore on his now thin wrist. The realtor would be here in less than fifteen minutes. He picked up a few items and thought about them, fluffed a pillow on the sofa as he walked by, and returned to the master suite. There was one more thing he had to do to get ready to meet with the realtor.

Susan Church pushed the doorbell for a third time. She had been ten minutes late, but she figured the potential client would have waited that long. She peered in the light beside the door and could see no motion. She stepped back, checked her watch again, and began to worry slightly.

The young man opened the door. Tall, muscled, tanned, with long dark hair and flashing black eyes. She put his age in his mid-thirties.

"Hello, I'm Aaron, my grandfather wanted me to show you around."

"This place is exquisite, and you say you want to sell it furnished."

"Except for a few personal items, and the books and music, yes. Arrangements will be made, of course, for anything the new owners do not want."

They walked through all of the rooms, noting the contents ranging from soft overstuffed black leather furniture in the great room to priceless antiques in the guest bedroom. Susan had never seen anything like it.

"I cannot believe that you could not get a much better price on this furniture through antique stores and consignment shops. Honestly, I don't know why you just don't move in here yourself. It will be a long time before another place like this one comes on the market. Especially with the ocean frontage."

"I'm not from around here. It seems a shame to have it sit unoccupied most of the year. I travel a great deal." Aaron seemed to be reciting reasons.

The final stop was the kitchen. Susan gave it a quick once-over but her glance was quickly brought to a halt. Over half of the black granite countertop had been cracked and chipped, the rest had literally been pulverized.

"What happened?"

"I'm sorry, I didn't have time to get this fixed, the craftsmen are coming on Monday. My grandfather had a problem with the black granite, or maybe it was just dealing with my grandmother's death. It's going to be replaced. I picked out a gray marble with pink veins, it is very beautiful and not as dark."

"The black had to have been beautiful. Very special."

"The gray will appeal to a larger customer base."

"The buyer base for this place will not be large, Mr. Copland."

"I have faith in you, Ms. Church." He smiled at her and his eyes flashed. "You'll get me a good price and earn yourself a good commission. My lawyer will be doing the rest of this transaction, here is his card."

Aaron returned to the bedroom more time and decided to exchange the Greek Key necklace for the bracelet. He knew he wasn't going to take the time to stop and get it fixed. Someone else could do it. His mind raced ahead as he thought about moving on. Where was he going to next? Where might she be? How long would it take her to realize who he was? How long would she resist, clinging on to her hard fought independence and whatever crazy other lover she now had. The search and the struggle was always fun, but in recent times he had come to relish the quiet time that followed --their years together.

He glanced at this reflection in the mirror.  Maybe he needed a haircut.  Long hair wasn't the current fashion.  He looked again, and smiled broadly. That was better, he didn't look as intimidating with short hair.  He held himself tall, grabbed a small suitcase, and went out to face the world -- and to find Xena one more time.

The End