(PROMT: Describe the room you’re in, in a way that describes everything toward an emotion.)
. The speakers were still swelling with big band music when Marsha walked in three days later. Look where she might, despite it being her father’s house, no shred was left of his life or presence.
. Marsha allowed herself a moment to look before closing her eyes to the room. Around her, every inanimate object was bent on animation: the stereo vocalized, the carpet blushed with stains, the shelved books pressed together like so many pursed lips. Even the impression on his pillow had gone, sacrificed to some greedy energy from her overstuffing it with cotton. Surrounded by overtures to life, she alone breathed, and yet somehow felt a ‘what’ among ‘whos’.
. Only the clock was silent; and, more by default than explicit wish, she found herself drawn to it – the ironic, silly, black block that had stopped, like her father, in some serene, but unnoticed moment. The black and white numerals counted themselves starkly, all movement and measure reduced to contrast like the sillouettes crowding noiselessly on the farthest wall.
. As she neared to inspect, a movement came upon the clock’s glass casing, and her own face surfaced in reflection. She saw her nose – her father’s nose – and for a moment she seemed to herself his last image and gift, his living death-mask. She reached beneath the casing and struck the pendulum; together, they two, they three, swung again in balance.
-Maureen L. Hough