The moving van left yesterday, but not until late in the day. Now, the next morning, I’m back at the house for a last look and walk around. The emptiness has a sound, like an echo. Not even one packing carton is left. Vacant picture hooks are lined up on the walls like upside-down question marks. Indentations in the carpet remember the couch, the bookcase, the dining room table. My mind puts them all back in place. And I can see people sharing drinks and laughs. “Dinner will be ready in a few minutes,” I would say.

I walk into the bedroom. It was our bedroom, and then it was my bedroom, and soon it will be someone else’s. In the bathroom, a vanity drawer is left open, and in it I find a one-euro coin. On his side, in his medicine cabinet, a label from a prescription container is stuck behind a glass shelf: another reminder – all the doctors, so many procedures and infusions. But not enough. I won’t go into the closet; even empty, his scent might still be there. Well, yes, I will go into the closet, because his scent might still be there. But it isn’t.

On the tiled kitchen floor, my sandals make a noise I’ve never noticed before. On a pantry shelf I see there’s a greasy ring where the olive oil used to be, and a grain of rice is stuck to it. The barstools are still there, they’ll stay with the house; I sit down and rest one elbow on the counter, feeling for a moment that I could be making out a shopping list for dinner. I’m glad I have someone coming in to vacuum and clean up all that was hiding under our too many things.

Last night, I went to be with friends and to spend the night. “Are you sure you want to go back to the house by yourself? We’d be happy to give you a ride to the airport.” Kind thoughts from good neighbors, but I need to be here by myself and make this last departure alone. I want to make the move back to Maine; I’m ready to try to start again. But God, this leaving is so hard.

The cab pulls up in front. I reach into my handbag to find my house keys, and I place all of them on the counter; I could keep one, they’d never know. But I don’t. I signal the driver that I’ll be right there, and then I take a final walk through every room: Check the stove, set the thermostat and make sure there’s no water dripping anywhere. I open the front door, reach back in for my rolling bag, take a last look and pull the door closed. I try the knob. Maybe? But it’s locked.

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