To catch up with where we are in this short story, read Part 1.
This story is not about dementia, but dementia is an ever-present character in the story “Pink”.
The artwork is inspired by the short story (Story copyright 2000 by Lynn Bridge).
Copyright by Lynn Bridge
Raku frame by Roberta Mitchell
6 7/8″ diameter x 1 1/4″
Mabel had passed away only four, no, maybe five…eight years ago, and they had bought this house when Bill was 10 years old and the twins were only 7. They had come down on the train from Cleveland; just the two of them; made the 1500 mile trip to spend the weekend looking for a place to live.
Harry hated to miss the days of work; felt guilt over being away from his old job in order to tend to the details related to the new job he was about to start, but he had been consoled by the fact that he’d found them a new house so quickly. Just one day of looking; one morning, really, and he’d spotted just what they’d needed: a tidy three-bedroom home on a street overflowing with children; plenty of room for the family, if the two boys shared a bedroom.
It certainly was larger than what they had been living in back in Cleveland, which was a converted poolside bathhouse on the former family estate in the suburbs. He remembered that on the house-hunting trip, Mabel had gently chided him for not allowing the real estate agent to take them to see the homes in a brand-new subdivision a few miles away, saying “Harry, maybe we can find a house that has another bedroom or one with a den.”
Mabel had been like that; she was forever seeking things beyond the realm of the practical, the necessary. He had quickly dismissed her suggestion, knowing that she would not directly express her dissatisfaction over the matter again, and then they had driven back to the agent’s office to sign some papers and be on the 7 p.m. train back to Cleveland.
They hadn’t even had to spend a night in a motel. He had thought about how convenient and thrifty it was to pay for two nights’ lodging simply by purchasing a couple of train tickets.
The paint cans on the table came back into Harry’s consciousness and he focused on a can that said “Inspirations Soft Matte”. He picked it up, trembling a little as he did so. The gallon can was heavier than he remembered it should be and he struggled as he lifted it across the table.
He wasn’t sure what “Soft Matte” meant, but he liked the idea of “Inspirations”, as if he were about to do something creative and important. He noticed a smear of paint across the top of the can and felt the reassurance of familiarity when he realized that the color of the smear nearly matched the color of the bathroom walls at home.
Mabel, in an effort to match the pink-trimmed maroon tiles of the bathroom, had chosen pink for the walls. Once, he had been vaguely aware of the clash between the shades of the trim, the walls, the pink curtains, and the pink towels, but he’d been proud that Mabel had made all her purchases on sale, allowing them to squirrel away the savings in their account at the bank.
Harry carried his can over to the register, where the same salesman smiled at him and said, “Find everything you need, sir?”
Harry said, “No, no, no, yeah, yeah, I found what I needed.” The salesman reminded him about the stain-killing primer, but Harry just stared and didn’t respond.
As he pulled his wallet from his pants pocket, he noticed that his hand was shaking slightly, and he had to concentrate to make it stop. He needed to hide this infirmity from the young salesman.
Harry fumbled with the bills for a while, then slowly counted the change that the salesman had returned to him. As Harry left the register, heading for the exit doors, the salesman ran after him with the wallet that Harry had absently left on the scanner glass.
(to be continued……)