The Craftsmen details were charming, but the overwhelming cat urine odor cancelled it out as soon as you passed the foyer. She covered her nose and mouth while she made her way to the dining room. The dirty plates from last night were still on the table, covered in ants and flies. The film on the pudding cup was thick and she wasted no time tossing it in the garbage can. Her mother downed those cups every night for dessert, but she only got one bite into this one before the stroke killed her.

Being in the house she grew up in after so many years was jarring. There was a veneer of sadness to it, and not just because her mother died at the dinner table. Her birth was perhaps the last truly joyous moment in her parents’ lives. Miscarriages, infidelities and money problems scattered over the decades haunted them until their inevitable divorce last year.

Her dad didn’t even return her call about her mom’s death. He left them both permanently behind when he moved to Idaho. Off the grid like he always wanted. Now all she had was two decrepit cats and a filthy, rundown house.

© 2021 Jeff E. Brown. All rights reserved.

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