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Death of a Housewife - Isabelle Ragheb

Death of a Housewife by Isabelle Ragheb from Limbo

Heartbroken Shepard

I held her gloved hand as we walked through the city in graceful silence. The frost from my breath matched the smoke she exhaled from her cigarette while we glided through the empty streets, drowned in our separate trains of thought. She watched me stare at the cracks in the sidewalk, hoping to find some kind of forgotten treasure in the gutters, and she smiled to herself.

We found ourselves in a park, the blanket of leaves from the trees crackling without regard for the silent city. The naked branches broke the monotony of the winter sky and, as we passed the empty benches, we looked up toward where the sun should have been. We sat down in front of the merry-go-round and she asked me if I would like to go on. I looked up at her and told her no, and I knew she understood.

She was dressed from head to toe in black, her lips crimson to liven up the dismal weather of the city. There’s a reason no one ever sings about Paris in the wintertime. She lifted her gaze and followed the slivers of white sky through the snarl of branches. She was someplace far away now, a place she had wanted to be so many years before she lost her way. She slipped off her velvet gloves, a gift my father had presented her in honor of their so-called sacred matrimony some months ago. I took her hand in mine again, her nails manicured beyond perfection and her skin cold and smooth. I wondered if anybody in the city had more beautiful hands than her. She rubbed my hands to keep them warm and told me to remember my knitted mittens next time we left the apartment. I shook my head as I watched an old man across from us feed a cluster of brash pigeons.

We left and I tried to match her rapid steps with ridiculous leaps and hops; she laughed and held my hand a little bit tighter. We kept walking until a pair of red leather pumps caught her eye in a store window. I tried to pull her away, but she paid no mind and dragged me inside despite my fervent whines. I sat down on a cream-colored couch and she glanced over the plethora of dainty heels, while a sour faced woman unabashedly stared at us. She touched the soft leather of a pair she had picked up and politely asked for her size, 38. The saleswoman reluctantly left her magazine on the counter and went to fetch them from the back room. I kicked my legs in the air and stared at the buckles of my black Mary Janes when they caught the glare of the store lights.

She slipped off her black ankle boots and slid her right foot into one of the pumps. She twisted her foot and looked at it from angles only casual observers would see them from. She stood up and stretched her leg out and I begged her to leave the shoes and the store so we could go somewhere, really anywhere, else. She ignored me and concentrated on how elegant the shoe made her foot look. She checked the price even though it was clear she had already made up her mind the moment she discovered them. “Well,” she said, “it’s almost Christmas anyhow.” I tried to look as exasperated as I could, which was difficult since I hardly knew what exasperation was.

She told me to keep it a secret between us, even though she knew I wouldn’t dare speak a word to my father. I hated to see him yell at her for spending so much; he didn’t understand. When she bought fancy things, it made her that much more of the lady she wanted to be and I knew that she was.

We left the store and I ran outside, pulling her with me towards a store filled with buttons. It was the most marvelous heaven a strange little girl could have hoped for. There were hundreds upon hundreds of buttons in various compartments throughout the store. Some were metallic, gleaming treasures, others were precious renditions of teddy bears and various animals. Some were plastic flowers in any color you could think of and others were famous heads of vintage cartoon characters. The walls were splashed with various types of yarn and I ran my fingers through the cascades of wool, imagining all the sweaters and hats that would soon be knitted. It was enough to be able to feast my eyes on this symphony of miniatures and fabric. I picked out a few buttons, only a few, since I wanted to have something to look forward to tomorrow. We went to the cashier who placed my new treasures into a small paper bag with tiny blue flowers running along the edge. Then the cashier placed the bag in my hot little hand. After a moment’s consideration, I gave her the bag so that I wouldn’t lose my tiny grains of happiness.

Outside, the city had grown dark as dusk nestled itself between nostalgic apartment buildings. I held her hand and watched the nascent illuminations from recently awakened streetlamps. I hummed a song I had learned about a lost lamb and I knew that she was the lamb and I was the heartbroken shepherd. I held on tight till we reached our crooked little street.

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