Alice lay in bed listening. There was the thwap of the overhead fan. There was the hum of the refrigerator. There was the faint wind-chime from the front porch. There were the crows on the front lawn. No video game explosions, no slamming doors, no one-sided phone conversations, no computer buzz, no deep sighs from anyone in time out. Alice waited, listening. There was the click of a coffee maker turning off, and the smell of Fair Trade brew wafting upstairs.
Alice pulled her Kindle from under the pillow and propped it open on the bed. For half an hour she read undisturbed. No cheery face popped into the room with a book of their own for her to read. No distraught faces sought judgment or declaration of fairness. She read until she had to get up to use the toilet. How many years had it been?
No one visited her in the bathroom. It really had been years since she had peed alone. She thumbed through an entire article in the National Geographic. The picture of a school room in Kenya contained the only children she had seen today. Was this a miracle or a disaster? Was she one of the Left Behind? Did she care?
Alice got up from the toilet and turned on the shower thriftily rinsing her hands in the spray. She brushed her teeth while the shower heated. Stepping into the shower, she noticed the water was hot. Really hot. Hot like the first shower of the day. Hot like no dishes had been done. Hot like the washing machine had not even been turned on. Hot like the shower at the Hilton. She washed her hair, lathered her body, and shaved her pits.
And still, no one interrupted her. She searched for the feeling of guilt a good mother should have, a little relieved to find the barest of twinges.
Alice dressed alone. She took actual time to brush her hair. She put on shoes over her socks and went downstairs.
The coffee was still hot and fragrant. Her mug was on the counter. There was plenty of half and half in the fridge. There were four bagels left in the bag instead of the usual half of a broken one. The butter in the butter dish was not festooned with crumbs, or jam, or with a knife stuck in upright. Alice started to wonder if this was, in fact, her house. Maybe she had been kidnapped by good fairies and rewarded for her years of service.
Alice picked up the mug and saw the sticky-note on the counter. “Gone to Mom’s for the weekend. Phone is unplugged.” There was an arrow pointing to the back of the note. “Fiona and Jill will pick you up at 6:45. Happy Birthday!” Released!
“You wake up, and everyone in your family is gone. There’s a Post-it on the kitchen counter. What does it say?” 712 More Things To Write About by The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. 2014 Chronicle Books LLC.
—- I am going to try to post a response to a prompt from this and 642 Things To Write About at least once a week. The prompt will always follow the response. While the prompts are from The SFWG, the responses are my own. Some of these may be expanded at a later date.
© 2016 Susan Dewey