Installment two in our short fiction series, Fiction Under 1000 Words.
I find little crescents of her fingernails in the corner of the room. There’s two of them perched on the carpet, leaning against the molding like they were little animals, two legged beasts carved from flimsy ivory. She never painted her nails since we had the kid. I’m not looking for them, on my knees cleaning the edges of the living room, but I find them. She’s still here, in a way. The dust on the edges of the molding and on the rim of the light switch plate is probably 30 percent her skin cells, 30 percent mine. If a neutron bomb got dropped and we were all wiped out and archeological crews from a future civilization came through here studying, reconstituting the dead from what we touched, they’d vacuum up all the cells and grow a new her and me and Aidan right here again in this house. Would we remember each other?
She’s somewhere, not far but not hanging around town either. Not that I’d run into her as that I haven’t left the house in god knows but I’d still know about it because I’m being checked on. Her friends, my friends, relatives from out of town happen to be just passing by on Saturday afternoons, heading to the mall that nobody goes to anymore. I feel less comforted than observed.
Especially with her friends. Reconnaissance units Stacey and Jennifer. They come as a pair with some kind of decoy object, typically something suspect. Rabbit-eared plastic covers for the outlets. A home knit scarf delivered in early August. Jenn and Stacey, in and out my door ferrying 43 thrift store volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica for Aidan. The kid is four.
Last Wednesday they showed up with no-bake cookies as I was paying the sitter. “Vegan no-bake cookies,” Jenn noted. The visit’s intent was transparently investigative. Nostrils flared discreetly to check air quality. Furniture was sat on gingerly, inspected with hands and given a test bounce. At one point, I could of sworn I saw Stacey measuring Aidan’s dimensions with palm lengths.