Sophie's face faded into the grey winter light of the sitting room. She dozed off in the armchair that Joe had bought for her on their fortieth anniversary. The room was warm and quiet. Outside it was snowing lightly.
At a quarter past one the mailman turned into the corner onto Allen Street. He was behind on his route, not because of the snow, but because it was Valentine's Day and there was more mail than usual. He passed Sophie's house without looking up. Twenty minutes later he climbed back into his truck and drove off.
Sophie stirred when she heard the mail truck pull away, then took off her glasses and wipe her mouth and eyes with the handkerchief she always carried in her sleeve. She pushed herself up using the arm of the chair for support, straightened slowly and smoothed the lap of her dark green housedress.
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Her slippers made a soft, shuffling sound on the bare floor as she walked to the kitchen. She stopped at the sink to wash the two dishes she had left on the counter after lunch. Then she filled a plastic cup halfway with water and took her pills. It was one forty-five.
There was a rocker in the sitting room by the front window. Sophie eased herself into it. In a half-hour the children would be passing by on their way home from school. Sophie waited, rocking and watching the snow.
The boys came first, as always, runnng and calling out things Sophie could not hear. Today they were making snowballs as they went, throwing them at one another. One snowball missed and smacked hard onto Sophie's window. She jerked backwards, and the rocker slipped off the edge of her oval rag rug.
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The girls dilly-dallied after the boys, in twos and threes, cupping their mittened hands over their mouths and giggling. Sophie wonder if they were telling each other about the valentine's gifts they had received at school. One pretty girl with long brown hair stopped and pointed to her face behind the drapes, suddenly self-consious. When she looked out again, the boys and girls were gone. It was cold by the window, but she stayed there watching the snow cover the children's footprints
A florist's truck turned onto Allen Street. Sophie followed it with her eyes. It was moving slowly. Twice it stopped and started again. Then the driver pulled up in front of Mrs. Mason's house next door and parked. Who would be sending Mrs. Mason flowers? Sophie wondered. Her daughter in Wisconsin? Or her brother? No, her brother was very ill. It was probably her daughter. How nice of her.
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