Rosie Gold | Jeff Golomb

Rosie Gold | Jeff Golomb

Rosie Gold unconsciously reaches for the wall switch in the foyer, momentarily forgetting the gaudy light fixtures are gone; in their stead, tangled fists of useless wires hang from the ceiling. How blissful those moments are, when she forgets.

She bends down to switch on a desk lamp as she and Sammy enter her split-level home. The lamp rests on the floor, its desk gone, along with most of the furniture and worthless artwork. Rosie had never even heard of an estate sale until three months ago; go figure she’d be so good at it! Sealed packing crates are stacked in the living room where the sofa, club chairs and coffee table had stood as far back as Rosie could remember. Their footprints are etched in the olive green carpet. A few open cartons await, eager to swallow the last remnants of the Gold family, and Sammy is here to help Rosie pack the last few things before she moves out and the new people move into the only home Rosie had ever known.

When the house was still alive, it had a flow, an eddy, pulling visitors—and Sammy was a frequent visitor back in college—into the kitchen. Rosie’s mother Bev was always busy cooking and invariably fed Rosie’s friends something delicious, as though she knew the kids had been smoking hashish upstairs in Rosie’s room and had the munchies. Mr. Gold was typically in the master bedroom, lying atop the bedspread, watching TV in his boxers. He kept the door open so he and Bev, who was downstairs in the kitchen, could shout to each other. It sounded like yelling but was just long distance conversation.

Sammy had been afraid to use the bathroom his first time here because he’d have to walk past the master bedroom, where Rosie’s almost naked father relaxed on the master bed. “Just don’t look,” Rosie had told him. He crossed the landing and for only one second, maybe even a half second, Sammy looked. Her father, lying in his boxers and scratching his crotch, chose the same second or half second to glance at the doorway, locking eyes with some kid on the landing. Sammy ran into the bathroom and locked the door, shuddering at the unsettling image. As he relieved himself, he looked at a shelf on the facing wall. Arranged side-by-side on the shelf was a menagerie of about ten animals, sculpted out of soap. Rosie’s mother, he would learn, hated small slivers of melted bar soap, so she harvested the little nuisances and, once she had enough to work with, she made beautiful sculptures. An elephant, giraffe, lion. A turtle next to a bird. A frog. White, light blue, gold, pink, Irish Spring green. The colors didn’t bleed together, they swirled through each figure like marble cake. Except a pure white polar bear. Sammy smelled it; the polar bear was made from Ivory soap.

Rosie escorts the visibly shaken Sammy to the kitchen and flips a switch. The ring-shaped fluorescent ceiling light makes a tinkling sound, sputters a bit before it catches and stays on. She grabs two beers from the fridge, fishes the bottle opener from its drawer and sits beside her friend on the L-shaped banquette around the yellow Formica table. The dinette set is built-in, so it didn’t sell. They drink to the dinette set, the ticking clock over the sink and the humming refrigerator. It’s as though the kitchen were the last living organ in a dying body.

Sammy thinks about the soap animals. He wonders if Mrs. Gold had given those trivial figures a passing thought after she got cancer, or after Mr. Gold’s fatal heart attack on the interstate. “I hope you kept your mother’s soap sculptures, Rosie.”

“They’re packed in a crate. I don’t know what I’m going to do with them. She and I loved them. I think I was in fourth grade when she started making them. She was delighted that they fascinated me. I couldn’t throw them out. I have a feeling I’m going to be carting them around the rest of my life unless they melt on their own accord. They could have already melted into a gir-eleph-frog and polar turtle-bird.” Rosie Gold hoped they were melting this very moment.

Jeff Golomb is a short story author and essayist. His work has appeared in the journals Gertrude, The Outrider Review and most recently, Polychrome Ink. Jeff is writing a novella, the Shih Tzu at his side waiting for him to finish and take him for a walk.