Lentils

Little Girl Portrait by Robert Schoeller

Threa twirled the soft orange seeds between her fingers, using the water to loosen the grime. She stared at them, taking her time to wash, then fill, then wash, then fill the glass bowl. Do things with concentration, that’ll keep your mind of her; she thought to herself, that’s what the doctor said. She looked out the window as the sun started its descent toward the horizon of puffy purple clouds. Then she sighed as she emptied the final wash, the water nearly clear, and poured out the lentils into a dry bowl.

Eyes fixated on the orange and yellow, she was scouring the bowl looking for imperfections, when she felt lips at her neck and a pair of strong, warm arms pulling her back. She cracked a grin.

“Hey baby, back so soon?” She turned in his arms to pull him closer and rest her head on his chest. The past few weeks, he’d been the only thing holding her together. Him and his teddy bear hugs.

“I thought I’d run out of the office before Bridg gave me anything else to do. Plus… I missed you.” The last words brought smiles to both their faces as he leant down to give her a peck on the nose.

“Sure, sure. You probably just came down to pick up the scraps before dinner.”

“Oh, you know me too well.” He said, sliding onto the table and picking at the bowl of dried apricots.

“Well, then you can get out of my way and—“ She paused at the trill of the doorbell. “And… Get the door!” She added with a smile, pushing his butt off of the table and steering him toward the kitchen door.

She continued smiling to herself as she heard Callum greeting their guests. Turning to focus on the cooking, she tossed the lentils into the pot to soften and simmer, watching them closely to make sure each spice and curry and herb was added at exactly the right time. As the dhal simmered, she blinked out tears, the spice stinging her eyes, and she remembered.

She remembered that time a few weeks back when she had the world. Two days she’d gotten with her angel. Two. She still remembered the soft button nose and bright blue eyes, on a face, that at the time had looked like mashed potatoes. She still smelt the soft, pink, happy, baby smell. She still felt the puffy, smooth, rosy, baby feel. And worst of all, she still cried when she saw those bright, blue, clear, baby eyes that came in her dreams.

As the dhal finished up, she plated it and wiped down the edges. This was an important dinner. This was the dinner that would prove she was fine. That she was coping. That she wasn’t sad anymore.

She greeted a few people as she carried the dishes out to the table she’d set that morning. Throwing out smiles, kissing people on the cheeks while reminding them to ‘watch the plate, it’s hot’, she was doing great, she’d even managed to score a few points talking to Callum’s boss telling her how much he’d helped the past few weeks.

Even though it wasn’t the same for him, he’d tried his best. He hadn’t wanted her in the first place, but he buckled down for her, he’d learned to love her, and she knew he was hurting too. She smiled at him across the room, still stranded in conversation with the dish in her hands. We’ll get through this, she thought to herself, if he’s here, then we’ll get through this. He caught her eye and smiled back, mouthing an extremely obvious “I love you” from across the room, a gesture which his friends wasted no time in picking up on, stealing his attention to tease him mercilessly.

She smiled, and kept her gaze on him as the conversation continued around her. Then her eyes caught on something silver, something glinting in the yellow light of their living room. She saw a flash of blue and the plate fell from her hands, yellow and orange soaking into the floor among the broken ceramic.

Blue.

It was the only thing registering in her mind as she walked toward the living room. As Callum tried to take her hand, she shook it off, transfixed. She walked to reach a small brunette woman, watching a girl dance on the carpet.

Not more than six, the little girl must’ve been, as she spun and stepped in a little denim dressed with her shining patent leather shoes. Threa knelt down to watch the little girl spin, the girl’s blonde ringlets flying out and bouncing off her shoulders, catching the yellow light of the living room. As she stopped spinning, Threa beckoned her forward, and took both the child’s small hands in her own.

“Hello, my name’s Threa.” She said, smiling kindly at the girl.

The girl looked up to her mother for permission, and when she nodded, she replied, “Hello Threa. My name’s Anna.”

Threa smiled wider at the girl’s confidence, and at her sweet young voice.

“Well, Anna. I just wanted to tell you that you dance wonderfully. And that you have the most beautiful blue eyes that I’ve ever seen in my life.”

She felt Callum crouch down next to her, and put a reassuring hand around her back. Then she kissed Anna on the forehead, and looked at him.

“We’re going to be alright? Right?”

“We’re going to be just fine Threy. And so is she. She’s fine.”

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