“Jensen, I don’t know about this.”
Jensen turned to her brother.“What do you mean?”
“I mean about Nan. She seems nice and all but, I mean, she lives in the middle of nowhere,and that story she told us last night gave me nightmares. Maybe we should call Mom and Dad.”
Jensen stood from the dirt and scowled at her twin.“We can’t do that! Mom and Dad need their time to be all couple-y again. You don’t want them to get a divorce, do you?”
Daniel looked down and dug the toe of his shoe into the dirt.“Well, of course not! But-”
“No ‘buts!’ We’re going to have to stick it out. It’s just for the summer.”
Off in the distance, across the tall grass and chirping bugs, rang a bell.
“Come on,” Jensen chirped. “It’s lunchtime. We better hurry.”
Daniel smiled halfheartedly and started walking towards the house. “Heh, yeah. At least she’s a good cook. Do you think she’ll be making dessert again?”
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13, 2003
“Thank you again, Miss Patty, for having me over!”
“Oh, it’s no trouble, dear. An old woman like me is lucky to have such a young and beautiful girl over to keep me company!”
Jenny smiled big to the old woman, showing all her teeth.
“That’s a beautiful smile you have, dear! Perfect, even.”
The young woman smiled, “Aw, thanks!”
The old woman smiled back and began to lead them down the hall towards the living room.
“Mmm, something smells really good. Did I interrupt you while you were cooking?”
“Oh, no no no, I had just finished making my apple pie when you knocked. Do you like apple pie?”
Jenny’s mouth began to water, “Oh yes. I love any kind of pie! Although, they don’t seem to love me back.” Without thinking, her hand came to graze across her muffin top.
“Oh, nonsense! You eat whatever you like, dear. We’ll dig into it later after it’s done cooling. Come sit, come sit!”
The room was soft in color. No blacks or oranges to be seen, only whites, baby blues, and pastel pinks. The walls had beautiful landscape paintings across them and a record player sang softly from the corner of the room. The sofa was adorned with a classic floral pattern that reminded Jenny of her own grandmother. Across the whole sofa, there was only one small stain, barely even noticeable.
Jenny took a seat across from her kindly neighbor and gazed around the pleasant room.
“So, Miss Patty, does your family visit often?”
“Oh, not nearly enough. My grandkids are at that age where all they care about is girls and video games.”
“That’s tough, I’m sure. I wasn't perfect at that age either. I used to sneak out to go to parties a lot.”
The wrinkled woman laughed heartily, “Oh trust me, sweetie, I was no angel myself!”
Jenny giggled, “How do you mean? Were you a troublemaker?”
“Oh yes! I used to go behind the convenience store down the street from my home and smoke and drink with my friends. We kind of made a club around it, if you can believe it. It almost felt like a cult at times to be quite honest! But they were great friends. Even named one of my kids after a person from that group.”
“Haha, wow, that’s so crazy and sweet! Do you still smoke and drink?”
Miss Patty gives her a sly look, “Oh sometimes. A girls gotta get her rocks off somehow.”
They both laughed for a good while and talked about life a bit more before excusing each other to use the bathroom and check on the food.
As Jenny walked down the hall, she could practically see the old woman’s whole life displayed against the wall and tables in ornate frames. It seemed like she enjoyed camping a lot and that her dad was out of the picture for most of her childhood. There was a portrait of her in a wedding gown and a kind-looking man in a tuxedo. They looked happy. He had a big silly grin on his face. They each had matching silver rings that shined in the light of the camera.
Farther down the hall, just before the bathroom, there was a picture frame on the floor face down. Jenny told herself that the woman probably dropped it at some point and was unable to bend down to pick it up. In an act of kindness, she decides to pick it up and place it back on the small table its dust impression belonged to. It was a more recent photo of Miss Patty and an old man, most likely her husband, seemingly happy together on the porch. Jenny smiled and then squinted at the corner of the frame.
She wiped a pinkie-red smear off the corner and read the date. March 1st, 2003; Only about a month ago.
‘That’s sad,’ Jenny thought, ‘He must have passed away quite recently. I wonder why she didn’t bring that up.’
Setting the photo back where it belonged, Jenny entered the small bathroom.
It was more of the same floral wallpaper that curled at the corners and pastel pink and blue. The plumbing looked a bit old for an old woman to use comfortably, but Jenny couldn’t worry too much about it. She wasn’t family, after all.
After using the toilet, Jenny washed her hands. She took a deep breath of the soap, thinking of her own grandmother, and smiled. And then she started to look a bit confused.
What . . .
What was that smell?
Did something die in here?
Jenny followed the, at first gently unpleasant, but soon becoming quite foul odor to the curling wallpaper. It was definitely coming from behind this wall.
Jenny slowly peeled back the paper only to find a sticky, brown-red, mess hiding behind it.
She retched quickly and opened the top of the toilet seat, almost throwing up, but holding it in at the last second. It was the most wretched smelling, god-awful thing she had ever seen, with only dissecting a frog in high school coming close.
As she pulled away from the paper and towards the door, she noticed something silver shining off the light of the tight room. Reaching down, she carefully snatched it up and almost immediately threw it.
Between her fingertips sat a silver wedding ring covered in blood.
“Jenny dear!” Miss Patty yelled from the kitchen, “Are you alright? You’re taking quite a while in there. Do you need some prunes, honey? It’s okay, it happens to the best of us.”
Jenny’s voice caught in her throat and came out as a squeak, “Co-coming!”
The young woman’s head was running wild. Is this what happened to Miss Patty’s husband? Could someone be trying to hurt her? She had to warn the dear old Miss Patty.
She dashed down the hall, soiled ring still in her clutches, and quickly stopped in her tracks when she came to the opening of the kitchen.
“Oh, there you are, dear. The pie’s ready.”
The old woman stood in the center of the kitchen, red dripping from the large knife in one hand, and a dark red and brown slice of pie in the other. Splotches of bright red staining her pink apron.
Something pale was peeking out from within the freezer.
“Have a slice, dear. It’s made with love.”