Heart of Stone
No more words were exchanged between mother and daughter, nor would there ever be again. Theresa, out of long unspoken necessity but presently for the purpose of survival, has put on a new and bold garment: wordless defiance, this in the face of the sudden erosion of Renata Gettleman's supreme confidence and now dissipating assurance that the world was ever in her control, her tight grasp. That grasp is loosening, and she has no say in the matter. She has lost her prized possession, her child. A perverse love, but love nonetheless.
The one person over whom Mother had absolute and unchallenged dominion was Daughter. Despite a brittle outward show of motherly affection and concern for her only child, Renata's normally cool demeanor was, to her consternation, warming up to this new creature. Theresa was showing signs of her mother's own robust nature. However, we are talking assertive, not aggressive. Both women knew what had happened so tragically, so unnecessarily mere days before. The younger woman, she who truly suffered the loss, knew, but only in her heart; the remotest possibility of Renata's untoward behavior, neglect toward her husband, was facilely explained away.
So much can be said in the silence of the lips. The eyes say what needs to be said: often so eloquently, so scathingly, so very to the point. Yes, the eyes have it. Theresa, never before seeming to possess a thought of her very own, has been forced to think, to act, without reservation. She was a child in a number of ways, but her father's brutal execution turned her into an adult overnight. The physical comfort and security of the cavernous mansion only amplified the emptiness she felt.
As Renata approached Theresa, breaking into her daughter's troubled reverie, she put a cold hand upon Theresa's shoulder. She hadn't the emotional capacity to embrace and comfort her daughter wordlessly, as a normal mother might do. Yet, strangely, the readily confident and glib woman had no words. If there had been any, they would have stuck in her throat. Theresa turned around, looked into her mother's eyes and said nothing.
The inwardly distraught but poised Mrs. Gettleman sought sympathy from Theresa with her eyes. Traits such as compassion and mercy, typical of any decent human being, were scarcely spiritual waters deep within the well of Renata's soul.
Theresa's awakened eyes saw fear in those of her mother. So unnatural, so untypical for the woman who plowed her way through every obstacle, challenge and person who stood his own shaky ground. With her right hand, warm and utterly feminine, she firmly grasped and removed her mother's hand, still upon her left shoulder, this bold gesture a silent declaration that never more would they touch . . .
Miss Gettleman has left her childhood home for the last time, never to return. The shell of a woman, ghostly in pallor, stands motionless on an upstairs landing and stares at the street below . . . through a darkened pane.