“Careful.” Gerald grabbed her elbow and veered her away from the display.
“Thanks,” Kay mumbled.
His hand left her arm as quickly as it had caught it. But the vise-like memory of his grip was a shadow of heat and tightness that banded all the way around her.
Kay scanned the inside of the church. The stained-glass windows, once a spray of color in the afternoon auction, were cathedral-shaped pools of blackness that broke the flow of the white walls. Dozens of folding tables were scattered across the room, wins and passes and future items for the next sale piled across their tops. She knew she had come back inside for something, but the thought had evaporated from her mind as she had entered the building. And maybe his hand on her elbow had a little bit to do with it as well.
“There’s that door you won.” Gerald pointed over to the corner, deducing her confusion.
She nodded and squared her shoulders as she headed for her last item.
“Gerald, if you please,” Mr. Forest called out to him. The older man pointed at a long dining table, beside which an auction patron waited impatiently for help in moving. Gerald excused himself from Kay with a nod and a smile.
She took in her first clean breath in his absence. With it came her equilibrium. Her forehead was drenched again, and her canary-colored cotton blouse stuck to her lower back. The damp fabric was probably darker in her sweat spots, broadcasting her nervousness to anyone who cared to look. Her eyes fell on the chipped yellow oak door, the thing she’d come in to get, and the last item she needed to pack up.
Kay rolled the unattached door onto its long-edge side and lifted it like Atlas, leaning it across her right shoulder and slightly over her back. The weight nearly pulled her down, but pride and the knowledge Gerald was probably watching kept the rectangular oak monster in her hands.
The door wobbled with each step, the long plank of wood sweeping back and forth in front and behind her. She was so enamored with her prideful need to move the chipped door on her own—and maybe her attention was also a bit too much on Gerald—that she wasn’t paying attention to the back end of the door until it swept across the top of the same glass-covered table she had ran into a minute earlier.
She felt the impact too late.
Every bit of the table’s contents, from a three-foot-high sapphire glass vase to a tiny red pottery thimble, crashed onto the floor. The old church’s beautifully designed acoustics, engineered to carry the music of the choir from the front all the way to the farthest pew, amplified the sound of a dozen different pieces of glass and pottery exploding on the oak floor.
The shock of impact and noise jolted the door from her hands.
It crashed to the floor, one end pivoting on the lower corner and spearing down like the blade of a giant set of wooden shears.
And because it was that kind of evening, the scissoring edge whipped down fast and hard, directly across the bridge of Kay’s right foot.