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She was surprised at her only legible thought. A certain, peculiar optimism seemed to infiltrate her mind just when her mind had seemingly shut itself down for fear of retaining any memory, however vague, of this godforsaken moment; of this godforsaken event. She was horrified by this thought. She didn’t want optimism, she wanted pure, unaltered terror. Grief. Anger, at the very least. But optimism knocked and, in her mind’s absence, entered.
At least it’s over.
The thought didn’t repeat itself. It was left untouched as a fleeting moment in Norah’s personal history. Even her repulsion wasn’t able to manipulate itself into a particular thought or manifest itself into a fully-fledged emotion. That solitary sentence was all that was there to identify with the future remembrances of Upton’s suicide.
As her brain continued to block out as much of the last few minutes as it possibly could, all Norah could even so much as faintly ponder over was that helplessly and terribly optimistic thought. She was appalled. Not at the death. Not at the loss. Not at the vibrantly wet red that had plastered itself upon what had, for so many years, been walls of a strictly off-white color. Only at her thought. Only at her optimism.
After holding high Upton’s head for so many years when he could not so much as lift it off the floor…
After supporting Upton’s every venture for fear he would ditch the project and later throw the blame on her…
After instilling positivity upon her husband day after day, lest he – as he has – kill himself…
Had she become the optimist?
The final moment of his quickly fading life – of course, it had always been fading, hadn’t it? – seemed to so perfectly represent the last thirty years of their marriage.
He’d given up.
He’d blamed her. (She hadn’t read the note yet, but surely it was filled with his less-than-subtle jabs and finger-pointings.)
And, in the end, she was holding him. It was his head in her lap. And she was left with only the off-white walls to accompany her in her few remaining years. She was left stripped, just as the walls had been stripped of their utterly dated wallpaper a decade or so before; stripped of any self-esteem; stripped of any personal image; stripped of any individuality.
Still with his head (what was left of it, at least) in her lap, still with her hands cradling his bloodied and aged face, her mind began to wander. In reality, there was no terror at all. No grief. No, not even anger. It wasn’t only optimism, it was positivity, for Christ’s sake. Hell, it was happiness, wasn’t it? So foreign, so forgotten. Yes, it had to be happiness. Relief, perhaps, was a large part of it. Freedom might make up a good portion, as well. She wanted to be terrified and to be sobbing with grief and anger. Only because she wanted her entrapping marriage to be decent enough to cry over.
She wondered how easy it would be to scrub fresh droplets of blood off the off-white walls.
She wondered how easy it would be to clean the carpet.
She wondered if they even still had the carpet cleaner.
Damn, she was supposed to pick some up at the store yesterday. That’s right, Upton had spilled orange juice all over the place on Wednesday. Oh, she forgot to pick up oranges from the fruit stand today. Funny how she remembered to pick up the apples, though, even though there were still three in the fridge.