1. Five flowerpots on the patio. All the flowers are dead. Geraniums, petunias, lobelia. I kept forgetting to water them. I think my mind is too full to remember such things. It’s a shame. The flowers were pretty.

2. The portrait hanging on the living room wall. Before, it was tucked away in the basement. It’s me, twenty years ago, before we got married. Did you know it was painted by a street artist in Paris? I love the browns and blues and reds. The artist made me look pensive. I like this painting.

3. Extra bottles on the bar in the dining room. They’re almost empty. I need to get more. I’m torn between the need to buy rum and gin and the desire to stay at home in bed. I’ll get more. Eventually.

4. The collection of fancy teas in the kitchen cabinet. I used to take my morning cup out onto the patio and enjoy the view of the woods behind the house. I’d watch the deer and rabbits and squirrels.

I haven’t made tea since you left.

5. The television in the family room. I can’t remember the last time I turned it on. It makes no sense for me to keep cable, but I put off calling to cancel it. I don’t feel like fighting the cable company and their ridiculous bundles of service. I don’t feel like fighting at all.

6. The bookshelf in my office. It holds my favorite volumes: the works of Octavia Butler, James Baldwin, Rita Dove. Books that have carried me through every crisis. The ones I read over and over. There’s no room for anything new. But I don’t read at all these days, so it really doesn’t matter.

7. The camping equipment in the basement. Remember the campsites we visited? And falling asleep listening to the sounds of frogs singing, owls hooting? For dinner, we’d cook hot dogs over the open fire. Then we’d talk about life and watch the flames. 

I’ll find someone else to go camping with me.

8. The king-sized bed. Clean laundry goes on the side I don’t sleep on. Your side. Dirty laundry goes on the floor. It’s inefficient but simple. I know where everything is. I have everything I need within reach. Everything.

So, no. You can’t come in.

Claudia Wair is a writer and editor from Virginia. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pithead Chapel, Astrolabe, Tangled Locks Journal, JMWW, and elsewhere. You can read more at claudiawair.com or find her on Bluesky @CWTellsTales.bsky.social.

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Every Day Fiction