The door lock clicked as Gretta turned the key. She shoved the creaking door open with her back and pushed inside, kicking it softly closed because her hands were encumbered by two paper grocery bags. She strode to the kitchen counter and put them down. Her keys echoed through the hallways as they tapped against the marble.
She flicked a solitary light on, which was centered above a grand oak dining table. The light streamed into the kitchen, giving her enough light to discern the grocery’s inside the bags.
She lifted a few bundles of fruits and vegetables, a couple cans of beans, a box of cold cereal, and a small container of already cooked Chinese food. The scent of broccoli and beef wafted into her nostrils, making her stomach growl. The slight sound seemed a screech of noise inside the empty home.
Gretta dutifully piled the fruit and vegetables into their appropriate drawers in the fridge, placed the cans of beans in the pantry, and set the box of cold cereal on top of the fridge. She, then, snatched a fork from the counter drawer and headed into the dining room with her dinner.
Seated and anxious to remedy her hunger, she opened the box and began shoveling pieces of broccoli and beef into her mouth. The crunching filled the room with sound. The silence was not nearly as deadening as when she ate anything with a crunch. In the back of her mind, it is part of the reason cold cereal was her breakfast meal of choice.
Gretta glanced around the room. Visible from her seat was the kitchen counter through the entry way to her right and the darkened living room through the entry way to her left. She stared into the darkness of her living room, munching away at a mouthful of food. She squinted into the darkness, trying to see if any of the furniture was visible. She knew where everything was located, having carefully placed it all there herself; however, she could not tell whether she was actually seeing outlines of the furniture or whether her mind was sketching it into her vision from memory.
The ambiguity bothered her. She pushed away from the table and strolled into the living room to flick on the light. She did and revealed a room beautifully arranged with expensive black embroidered leather couches, two matching footrests, a red reclining chair, red oak end tables, and intricate glass lamps. The room was arranged as though it were staged for a magazine cover. Gretta enjoyed decorating her rooms.
She plopped down on the couch, suddenly overcome with a wave of fatigue. The clock centered over the mantle read a quarter before nine o’clock. Gretta was accustomed to long days at the office, but lately they had been sapping her of all strength.
She stared at the clock a moment. The ticking became more prominent as she focused both her senses of hearing and sound onto it. Every tick seemed to get louder, echoing through the dining room, into the kitchen, and down the hall.
‘How did I not hear it before?’ she wondered.
Removing her eyes from the clock, she continued to scan the room. Everything in the room was elaborate and perfect. The throw pillows, neatly folded blankets, Afghan rug over authentic hardwood, and so forth, may have been of a better quality then the President of the United States himself owned; a thought that once would have brought a smile to her face. A thirty year-old Gretta would love the fancy and elaborate design of her home. For fifty year-old Gretta, it was revealing of a deep wound she now carried.
The fancy carved mantle lacked pictures of husband and children. Absent from the furniture and perfectly polished wood floors were stains, scuff marks, and scratches that comes with good use. The table was undressed, the kitchen barren, and bedrooms nearly empty. The washer and dryer were only utilized once a week, cleaning the same style of blouse and skirt she had dutifully worn to work for over twenty years. Thirty year-old Gretta smiled at the thought of the independent, monetarily successful life fifty year-old Gretta lived now.
Tick, tick, tick. The echoes no longer drowned out the silence. They revealed it.