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Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Inheritance

It was like a bad dream, she thought as she made a mental list of the things she had to do. She became slower and slower in working things off her list, yet new tasks kept on adding to it at the same old speed. After enumerating the fourth post haste job, she already felt as if she was buried alive. Buried in the in the facts of life, the consequences of being human, of being a single mother. She stopped thinking. Thinking only led her to feeling paralysed. What she needed was action.
She placed her mug, bowl and spoon, her breakfast tools, on the kitchen counter, piling them up on the plates, mugs and glasses of yesterday. Then she went downstairs, to the bathroom. A shower would be nice, even though it would nibble at her time to get things done.

The shower might have washed away her negative thoughts, but as she came downstairs and entered the living room that had been her mother's, they washed right back over her again.
The room was now used for drying laundry, exercising and even as a workplace. Her mother's furniture had been taken away by an estate cleaner, except for a huge bookcase and an old fashioned roll top desk. She hadn't had the heart to let the thing be taken away. Her mother had always believed it was antique, an original 18th century cylinder bureau she had inherited from her grandmother, who had it from … who had it from … It was her mother's wish that she, Hannah, would inherit it. The desk was just an imitation, not worth a lot and so large, it determined the atmosphere of the room, in spite of the rack filled with dry laundry and the turned up bicycle that she hadn't been able to repair. She had been able to increase the damage.
She sighed walking past the bike and mentally calculated when to iron the laundry as she swallowed down her regret for not having taken the bicycle to the repairman when the wheel could still turn.
She halted at the end of the room, at the door leading to the garden. The rabbit, a liberated, wild spirited creature, was munching on the remains of a sawed off rosebush. Too much for the big garbage bin. She might have to hire a dumpster, if she wanted to get rid off the thorny twigs in one swoop. If such a thing was available, she might as well get rid of the other things in the garden: the rusty bicycles her son no longer used, the old dead Christmas tree, the numerous empty flower boxes. The rosebushes and flower boxes had been her mother's choice. Hannah herself definitely had no 'green fingers'. But even is she'd had them, there was no time for keeping up a garden. At least it was a great place for the rabbit. That animal... it was one of the first signs of her mother's decline. Her mother had bought it in a weak moment, but never ever looked after it. Not even paid for her food, in complete ignorance of Hannah's financial problems. The rabbit had become Hannah's responsibility for the full hundred percent. The woman raised her hand in greeting as the rabbit eyed her, wondering if Hannah's appearance at the door might mean food. At least the rabbit managed to make her smile. The animal hadn't been locked up for over a year now and was probably the most wise and healthy of all the occupants of this plot. She'd gnawed at the wire mesh of her enclosure, creating two more exits, for just in case. Rabbit Architectural Instinct.
She turned her back to the messy garden, facing the laundry rack. Now, if she would fold it all that would be one thing less on her list. She remembered her mother;s habit of wanting everything to be washed, ironed and back into the closets before leaving for a holiday. Why? So she wouldn't lose the holiday feeling after crossing the threshold of her old life?
Hannah's holiday was coming near now, would she get all her laundry done before that? She duly started to pick items and started to stretch them – to reduce the creases- and folded them neatly. If she skipped ironing them, she might get everything piece of textile back into the closet before leaving. Hannah was so short, she had to stand on her toes to lift sheets from the rack without letting them brush the floor.
Maybe, she thought pausing the folding of a sheet in midair, her urge to have things done, have clean and neat surroundings, close to perfection... that was her inheritance.
Inheritances could be refused. They could even be refused after taking inventory. She gave a short laugh. She didn't need to take stock, she knew she would reject the inheritance. Time to live her own life.

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