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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A woman enters her home to find it completely different from how she left it.

Submitted: May 21, 2018

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Submitted: May 21, 2018



I walk through the door of my house after a relaxing spa weekend. No one is home. The kids are still at school. What kind of mother would I be if I’m not at least home to greet them? And Ralph should still be at work, though it’s strange that he hasn’t called me at all today. It must be busy at the clinic.

I go to hang my coat on the coat hanger in the hallway, but it falls to the floor. Hm? Where did my coat hanger go? I pick up my coat and notice the floor—spotless. No juice stains or dirty foot prints. Ah, so that’s what happened. Someone cleaned and forgot to put it back.

Nodding to myself, I step into the kitchen to fix an afternoon snack. I slide open the door and nearly faint from surprise. My kitchen! My dream kitchen that I spent months perfecting has been turned inside out! The white marble countertops have been replaced with bland, stainless-steel counters, like the ones in some fast food restaurant. And, the matching white marble island is simply gone! At least my double oven remained intact, I thought as I retreated to the dining room.

Oh, the dining room! It has also been ruined! My beautiful oak table has been replaced by something that looks like it was made from plywood and covered with cheap varnish. The floral wallpaper I painstakingly chose from over two dozen swatches has been torn down and painted over with pea soup. My cabinet full of fine china is gone, like my poor island. Only this time it has a replacement. The most atrocious painting I have ever seen replaced the china that I spent years and years collecting. I had tea cups my great-great-grandmother brought over when she fled her estate in Germany! Those cups carried in them the memories of both world wars.

I feel as if I’m on some reality television show. A twisted version of the home makeover shows. Distraught, I fled upstairs. My bedroom. That can’t have been changed.

Oh, but it was.

The king-sized four-post bed I share with my husband is replaced with some cheap metal frame bed from Ikea or someplace like that. All the matching furniture—my bureau, the chest of blankets, Ralph’s dresser, my vanity—all replaced by shoddy, second-rate, mismatched versions of themselves.

I run to the children’s rooms. The first two only suffered minor changes. A new set of posters, slightly different furniture…. Minor changes. Just phases. Children all go through phases.

But the third, my baby who was so excited to start the fourth grade, to be one of the “big kids,” her room is… is…. I choke back a sob. My little girl’s room is a storage closet! Who would do such a thing? Even for a joke this is too cruel!

I let out a shriek as I tear through the boxes littering my daughter’s room. I toss them into the hallway until my arms ache, then I toss out some more.

The room isn’t even half clean before I collapse to my knees. I look at my shaking hands. My manicure is ruined now, I’ve lost four of my French tips. I just can’t do it anymore. I drag myself, half crawling, to the nearest telephone. I can’t deal with these fancy cell phones right now. I rest my hand on the doorknob to my husband’s study, praying that at least this room was left untouched. This is Ralph’s room. I can’t pick up a single book off the floor without him fussing over how he means for it to be there. Surely he wouldn’t allow some pranksters inside. I’m sure everyone is waiting for me to open the door. We’ll all have a good laugh and start putting everything back together. Yes, that’s what will happen.

With a tearful smile and bated breath, I open the door. No cameras or shouts or laughter, but I heave a sigh of relief nevertheless as the musty smell of books washes over my face. I see Ralph’s rickety old desk sitting in front of the window and the shelves are packed full of his thick, difficult-looking novels and medical journals.

I sit down at the desk and run my fingers over the scratched wood. I have no idea why he refuses to replace this old thing, it’s so unremarkable and it must be about ready to just fall apart. On the edge of the desk, I notice the newspaper. Funny, he never reads the “Times.” I idly flip through the pages, trying to calm down before I call anyone. Not five minutes later, I hear the sound of a car door. Finally! This joke can come to an end. I stand and hurry to the window that overlooks the driveway. A family of four exits a silver minivan. Mother, father, young son and a teenage girl. Who are they? They don’t seem like the hosts to a reality show. Are they guests? I can’t let them see the house in such an appalling state!

I rush to the door, but the family has already entered the house.

I stop in my tracks and dread fills my body, sending shivers all over, and my mind is assaulted by strange images, like an old movie reel spinning far too quickly.

My car. Lights. Horns. Breaking glass. A fire.

Then I remember.

I don’t live in this house anymore. I don’t live anywhere anymore.

© Copyright 2018 H.Y. Motte. All rights reserved.

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