Violets & Velour

The ragged edge of the pale blue envelope stuck out from others in the stack, partially obscured by torn-out magazine pages and recipes secured to notebook paper with yellowed tape. Emma’s grandmother had saved everything. She thought she was mentally ready for the estate sale but it was only four days away and a monumental amount of work lay ahead just to get this one room sorted. Her uncle cleared out the basement last week. He said he’d found a trove of vinyl records in the garage and stock certificates at the bottom of a dusty box of mason jar lids. He’d instructed Emma to pay particular attention to the sunroom today. Who knew what Grandma Helen might have squirreled away in here.

Emma slid the envelope from the stack and slumped into the wingback chair upholstered in the golden velour so stylish in the 1960s. This is where she always found her grandmother after supper when Emma came to visit. This was where they’d read and play with handmade felt stories. Emma turned her head toward the right wing and inhaled, eyes closed, hoping for a whiff of violets. All she could smell was the punch of antiseptic that had arrived with her mother’s mops and sponges. Wiping, scouring—making ready for another family. The citrus astringents staking their claim on a world that had been long softened by violets and velour, their scents transforming the house room by room. She hadn’t expected the cancer to steal both her grandmother and her refuge.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

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