She busies herself.

She busies her hands.

The hands are spotted, mottled. Ugly dark curved nails. Crippling arthritis, yet she busies her hands.

She doesn’t even walk, she half flies around the house always shuffling her squat legs in the midst of an important mission.
Frantic energy- she must do this, she must do this, she must, she must, she must.
The laundry? That’s folded now. Yes it’s all put away. The socks? Yes. Underwear? Yes. But what about.... Well I should check that I set out the shirt to iron. I won’t iron it just yet, but it should be laid out on the ironing board just to remind me it needs doing later. She worries on little projects just to busy her hands.

But inevitably there’s an uncomfortable moment when everything is done.

When it’s all been exhausted, and each job just a repetition of an earlier task, she puts a kettle on -washing the few pieces of cutlery used since this morning’s dishes- and sits at the kitchen table with her tea.

When the children were all at home there was never time for this moment. When the children were all at home she would never have been able to enjoy a quiet moment with her tea and her thoughts. And now... she sits waiting. Her hands move across the table looking for wrinkles in the well-worn, fruit-covered tablecloth to smooth over.

The newspaper Thomas left before he tied up his boots and half walked, half-limped out the front door is still in its place. She pulls it towards her, although not really intending to read it, then pushes it back. Now it will wait for Thomas’ fingers- for when he arrives through the door and sits, pulling his work boots off, sighing and grunting from the exertion of his day. His arrival will give her reason to get up again, and busy her hands.