Radiation Therapy

Irene closes the vial of radium paint, sneaking it into her bosom. The watch faces illuminate with undark vitality. The countdown begins.

Pinching cheeks for color, polishing shoes with holes in the soles, the girls dance the Charleston without partners at ten. “For the boys in the trenches,” they say.

Eleven, Irene paints her home’s threshold with the stolen vial. “If God will loan him eyes, my boy can find his way home to me.” Fearing Henry will return a basket case, the doorway gleams like a lighthouse in the death of night.

Tolling twelve, she will die before him.

Written for 2021 NYCMidnight 100-word microfiction challenge (not a winner)

Prompt: Painting a house, loan, historical fiction

Inspiration: Radium Girls

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