She could still hear the gentle closing of a French door, the tumbling footsteps & uplifted voices from above, streams of long dark hair and eyelashes, blonde curls & eager, grasping eyes, that would fade in a matter of hours.
Business would continue as usual. The festivities of glitter and bows, pictures, videos and thank you letters the only reminder of what seemed like an open door to a world filled with warmth, weight, children's breath and beating hearts.
She would go back to the basement, the humidifier's purr blurring out the words "I love you and we'll see you soon." She knows how far away soon truly is, that sometimes it's the drop of a penny in a wishing well, the wait by the train track, the silence of the telephone, an unopened letter.
She knows how "soon" is not a measurement of time, and with time, there are no guarantees.
She will stop, listen to the stillness of a spoon clanking in a coffee mug, her own heartbeat, the hands of a clock, close her heavy lids, curl into her own chest, smile to God and realize....
She is just alone, not lonely.
And suddenly, the walls erupt with applause.