A Phantom Love for Laura Lee
by Kathleen Galajda
could she feel so dead, yet manage to get through the last few weeks of her
life? Simple things that she usually took for granted now seemed so
Somewhere a whippoorwill called. How mournful it sounded on this bright
spring day. The lonely cry brought a lump into her throat with tears
springing to her eyes.
Pushing herself from her bed, Laura walked as if dazed to the dresser. She
and her mom had picked up the antique from a flea market. Her fingers
trembled slightly as they traced the carved lions that lined the mirror. A
tender smile crossed her face as she remembered her father grumbling about
how his daughter and wife could always find things to keep him busy.
“Can’t yah just buy something new for change instead of this old stuff?”
Yet, there was a gleam in his eyes, as he surveyed the piece in front of
him. How he loved the old style furniture. Matthew called it a work of art.
“It’s a shame that people can’t see the beauty in these wonderful pieces.”
He would run his hand lovingly over the extensive carvings.
“A masterpiece, which never gets noticed.”
It had taken almost a month before the dresser was to her father’s
satisfaction and finally in place at the little apartment. Matthew worked
magic with his hands.
Her mom would say that her husband’s mistress was antique furniture. More
than once Laura would hover by the garage door as her father ran his hands
over the delicate carvings, muttering to himself as he breathed new life
into the wood.
She had always wondered why her father never became a carpenter instead of
working for the Genesee Brewing Company in Rochester.
Those trips to St. Paul Street to meet her dad for lunch now were gone
forever. Closing her eyes Laura took a deep ragged breath. This was not the
way to start out another day. Slowly Laura opened her eyes to stare at her
reflection in the mirror. She looked older than her twenty-three years. She
frowned at her reflection as she studied the dark circles under her eyes.
Other than that she looked the same, yet, she no longer felt the same.
Snatching the pearl-handled brush from the dresser, she raked it through her
hair. Placing a hair tie in her teeth, she gathered the shimmering
waist-long locks into a ponytail. Yanking the strands into order she
surveyed herself in the mirror.
Large gray eyes stared back. “Stop it right now!” Laura growled as tears
clouded her vision.
Turning away from the mirror, Laura decided she did not care what she looked
like. She had no desire to take time with her appearance.
Donning a tee shirt and jean shorts, she glanced back at the mirror and
stuck her tongue out at it as she left the bedroom.
Newspapers and half-empty boxes littered the short hallway that led to the
kitchen. Carefully stepping around the cluttered mess, Laura vowed she would
finish packing today. The white tiled floor felt cold against her bare feet,
as she made her way to the kitchenette.
Automatically she filled the coffee maker trying desperately to face another
long day. The aroma of coffee filled the small apartment. Her stomach
growled; she had not been eating very well lately and her body was giving
protest against the neglect.
Wearily she leaned against the counter. “Dad, Mom,” she whispered, “I hope
this is not going to be a big mistake.”
Grabbing a mug, she poured a cup of coffee. The hot mug felt good against
her cold hands. Slowly, she eyed the mess strewn around the apartment. This
one bedroom apartment had been her sanctuary, a place where she could paint
and just be herself.
Tears started down her face, as memories came flooding into her mind. Her
parents had helped her pick out this place; everything in it had been
carefully searched for and matched. It may have been her apartment, but
everything in it was a part of her parents. She and her mom had spent many
long hours matching paint, curtains, and every small item that decorated it.
No, there were too many memories here.
They had lived in Rochester all her life. Laura could not believe how lucky
she was when she found this place. The array of flowers below her window had
always made her feel if she lived in a magic garden. She had always loved
Highland Park; the lilacs in the spring filling the air with their light
A sudden loud thump on the apartment door announced the arrival of the
morning paper snapping Laura back to the present with a start.
Hot coffee spilled over her hand onto the floor. “Blast it all!” she
growled, putting the cup on the counter with more force than she had
intended, spilling more coffee as she did so.
She had to get a hold of herself. Glancing at the wall clock, she was
startled to see it was only six-thirty a.m.; she did not have to meet the
movers at her parents’ house until ten.
Usually she was a late sleeper; she definitely had never been a morning
person. Glaring at the spilled coffee confirmed that she should have stayed
Laura reached up and made a grab for a piece of paper toweling, yanking hard
enough to pull the roll of the holder. She closed her eyes and counted to
ten; it did not help. Snatching the roll of paper towels, Laura threw it on
the floor in the middle of the spilled coffee.
Stomping her foot, she turned her back on the mess and went to retrieve the
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