To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.
Sophie's face faded into the gray winter light of the sitting room. She dozed in the armchair that Joe had bought for her on their fortieth anniversary. The room was warm and quiet. Outside it was snowing lightly.
At a quarter past one the mailman turned 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.
Sophie stirred when she hear the mail truck pull away, then took off her glasses and wiped 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 one forty-five.
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 snow.
The boys came first, as always, running 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 into Sophie's window. She jerked backward, and the rocker slipped off the edge of the oval rug.
The girls dilly-dallied after the boys, in twos and threes, cupping their mitered hands over the mouths and giggling. Sophie wondered if they were telling each other about the valentines they had received at school. One pretty girl with long brown hair stopped and pointed to the window where Sophie sat watching. Sophie slipped her face behind the drapes, suddenly self-conscious.
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.
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 from 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 his third knock.
"Yes?" she said, peering around a slightly opened door.
"Good afternoon, ma'am," the man said loudly. "Would you take a delivery for your neighbor?"
"Yes," Sophie answered, pulling the door wide open.
"Where would you like me to put them?" the man asked politely as he strode in.
"In the kitchen, please. On the table." The man looked big to Sophie. She could hardly see his face between his green cap and full beard. Sophie was glad he left quickly, and she locked the door after him.
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