The acrid stench of bleach kept the bristling green riot at bay behind the well-polished kitchen windows. She sniffed, momentarily satisfied, and rubbed blearily at the caffeinated caverns stretching beneath her itchy eyes. A sudden twitch brought her shoulders about her ears as a birdsong clarion echoed faintly through the vinyl siding. With a moist sigh, she turned to rummage through her obese bag for the earbuds that made her daily penance upon the treadmill more bearable and shuffled away on the fresh linoleum.
Later that day, after she’d bit her tongue while he complained about his boss—forgetting, as always, to remember to ask how her presentation that morning had gone—over a skillet-warmed stir fry with no monosodium glutamate, she curled into the squeaky couch and nursed a gingerly spiked cranberry juice as a dull parade of local news and commercials marched past her flickering thoughts. There was a knot somewhere, something not quite right, but she thumbed a pregnant sniffle away from her nose and lost the mustering concentration to put her finger on it.
The next morning, bleary from being woken at dawn by seven friendly sparrows and one erstwhile loon (which she thought was an owl), groping for her probiotic yogurt breakfast as she backed her sedan out of the oil-smelling garage, she suddenly stopped. Two of the dozen mole traps scattered about her patchy front yard had been sprung. Knowing that he would leave 5 minutes too late to bother noticing or doing anything about, she jammed the car into neutral and clattered out into the yard, cursing the tiny stones that persisted amid the rooting sod. With a fragrant mixture of revulsion and curiosity, she reached down to pull the first sprung trap out of the proud mole hill he’d punched it into.
It wouldn’t budge.
So she pulled harder, kneeling down in her favorite floating yoga position to grasp and tug with both hands. With an organic wet suck, the trap abruptly came free of the dew-drenched earth and she reeled backwards, crashing onto the thick sod with a disgruntled thud. The trap was empty. Snarling invectives against the undeveloped patch of forest that hemmed in her orderly cul-de-sac, she lunged forward and peered into the hole she’d just opened up, just in enough time to see the hairy, tapered rear end of something brown retreating down into the wormy murk. With a cavalcade of searing oaths, she stomped back into the gingerbread house to change her newly grass-stained blouse.
Now she was going to be late, and she was pissed.
Katrina, Fire, Heat, Melt
10 hours ago