Julie was lost in thought.
Her right pointer finger slowly traced the edges of the metallic trinket. It was tucked far enough into her pant pocket that only the longest digit could reach. Back and forth, her hand moved caressingly, pausing from time to time to inspect any irregularity, any imperfection. In such a manner Julie built a mental image of the old forgotten piece of jewelry. Her hands visually occupied a space that her eyes had long abandoned.
There was not much to the frigid, sterile room A few rickety chairs. A worn carpet. Some posters placed haphazardly on the wall. The smell of bleach wafted through the waiting room and mixed with the alcohol emanating from where the IV had been placed in her forearm. Julie had grown used to the metallic explosion of iodine assaulting her palate shortly after the injection. There were all sorts of explanations. It reminded her of fear.
She drank it in. Every few months. Much like her mother had. CT scans and blood tests, radiation and chemotherapy. At least there was action. Waiting is what slowly killed her mother. Desperate moments lost in rooms such as these. Waiting to be poisoned. Waiting to be irradiated. Waiting to be informed and then consoled. If one could string all those moments together side by side, surely there would have been enough time for one last trip to Mexico, or maybe Vegas.
Julie’s mother allowed the life to spill out of her in such a pathetic, untidy manner. She grasped the tarnished cross in her hands. She never bothered to remove the chain, although it was seldom worn around her neck. She would clutch openly at the pendant while she waited until she was called back to the office. Then she would slip the cross back into her pocket, and hurry after the nurse who most likely had already disappeared behind the cantankerous doorway.
No matter how hard Julie tried, she couldn’t stem the flood of memories that threatened to drown.
The night her mother died, her father fastened the necklace on the lifeless chest, haughtily displaying all the agony and fear. He said it looked nice.
After everyone left, Julie leapt to her feet and snatched the horrid idol from where it lay. The flimsy chain snapped and disappeared into the murky abyss of the casket.
It was the last time that Julie would ever touch her mother, or see the hapless chain again.