Amélie

She leans back and the light from outside the window flashes on her exposed teeth, framed by slightly parted lips. The vintage gramophone on her nightstand has been trumpeting the orchestral “Non, je ne regretted rein,” over and over for the past hour. She doesn’t tire of it, and moves the needle to play it once more. As she passes her vanity mirror on her way back to the window, she pauses to admire her reflection. Three different red lipstick shades combined had finally swirled into the perfect crimson to complement her pale skin. Stopping for a moment to lightly brush her face with the back of her hand, she briefly tries to remember what it was like to be outside. He doesn’t let her leave the house anymore, says that she cannot handle the pressure of the world outside.

The thought floats out of her mind as she notices the sway of her deep, mahogany hair that she had so painstakingly curled for him. When will he be home? He will surely love the long, sweeping white dress she had found in the back of the old closet, it reminded her intimately of their wedding day, and the triumphant sparkle in his eyes as he swung her around and showed her off. They laughed so much back then.

The flash of car lights outside the window startles her out of her reverie and she darts down the long staircase through the dining room to the larger window, parting the curtain. She sighs with disappointment, it’s not him. Just the neighbors from across the street, the older ones who spend every waking moment together. She watches as they walk out of their car, smiling and talking animatedly, and hold hands all the way to their own front door. He whispers something, she giggles like a schoolgirl, and then disappear into their modest home. She blinks slowly, almost as though to freeze the moment, glancing around the room and taking in the large, framed paintings and plush carpeting full of the cat hairs that still needed to be vacuumed out.

The song finally stops, the crescendo and Edith’s smoky voice blending together in a strong farewell. No, I regret nothing!, Edith declares. Why does this make her sad, she wonders, walking over to the record player to place the needle back, her footprints have already created a well-worn path in the off-white threads. Glancing up at the clock, she is startled to notice the time had flown by, he should have been home three hours ago. She walks out of the room, nervously, reluctantly leaving her post by the window. She must check on the candles and wine. The sound of a car door slamming makes her jump and she runs to check once more. No, the neighbors again – they have forgotten their coats in the backseat.

Oh! The candles, the wine. She walks back to the dining room and stares, confused. The bottle of wine is sitting open, with only an inch, residue, left at the foot of the bottle. The candles have burned low and only one remains lit, sitting on the wrong cabinet, a different cabinet that she has never seen before. A man’s smoking jacket is draped across the large armchair in the corner. When she goes to investigate, it smells of his cologne and of city sounds. Has someone entered her home, has there been a burglary?! She rushes to and fro, as quietly as she can, checking on all of the fine china and her mother’s silver. Everything is where it should be. Just in case, she decides to collect it all and put it in a box at the bottom of her bedroom closet. Finally satisfied that she has all of her valuables, she glances furtively around and sneaks up the long winding staircase with the heavy box in hand and down the hall to her wide, lavish bedroom.

Striding purposefully into the room, she walks the mile to her closet and opens the tall accordion doors. Placing the box gently on top of others that look just like it (how odd), she steps back and quietly closes the doors after herself. Turning, smug that she has outsmarted her phantom attackers, she decides to take a quick nap before he comes home. She must look fresh and perky for his arrival! Turning down the covers (oh, she has been wearing her nightgown this entire time, how silly of her to not realize), she slides into the thousand-thread count sheets and turns to her side so as not to ruin her cascading waves. She’ll just close her eyes, just for the moment…

She is shaken awake. It is him! He looks at her, face wrought with panic and worry. What’s wrong, what’s the matter, my love?
He cries and cries and holds her.

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