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Monica J. O'Rourke's stories have appeared in Nasty Piece of Work, Twilight Showcase, Dark Muse, Writer Online, Bloody Muse, The Edge, and many others. Her upcoming publications include stories in Flesh and Blood, the RARE, Strangewood Tales, and Darkness Rising. She's also the Assistant Editor at Black October magazine and a member of the Horror Writer's Association.

 

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Moving to Poplar

by Monica J. O'Rourke

 

Two pairs of eyes blinked back the light, having to adjust after the darkness of the cabinet.
"Don't mind them," the real estate agent, Mrs. Potter, said. She laughed and opened the cabinet doors wider.
Two young boys tumbled out, a mess of sneakers and scabs and stained shirts.
Macy laughed, lifting one to his feet. "They're adorable."
"Yes, aren't they? Sweet boys. They're twins you know."
"Twins? But they--"
"Fraternal."
"Ah..."
Macy inspected the rest of the kitchen; opened the fridge, checked the cabinet space, examined the wallpaper seams that had began to separate.
"The previous owners bought a house up in Nantucket. They wanted to be closer to water, I believe."
"Mmmm." Macy didn't care much for pleasantries but went along, nodding, as if to say My, my, Nantucket? How very nice.
They inspected the bedrooms and living room and den, settling in the living room, saving the obviously best for last. Parquet floor, a huge wood-burning fireplace -- and, a selling point for Macy, the polished, real oak paneling. It would be like living in a ski lodge.
"My husband will want to see it, of course, but I'm sure we'll make an offer."
It had everything she wanted.
"I have to go now, Mrs. Potter. I think I mentioned earlier that my house is being shown this evening."
"Of course." The broker smiled and extended her hand.
Macy rushed home and tidied the kitchen. Shannon was already home from school and had slopped up the counter making a snack. Crumbs and smears of peanut butter all over the tiles, dirty plate and knife in the sink.
"Young lady," she said, "we have people coming to see the house and your room's a mess."
"So don't show them my room," Shannon muttered, lying across her bed, exhausted from a hard day of skipping classes.
After an exaggerated sigh, Macy stormed into the hallway. She hoped the perspective owner would understand about the mess and the headstrong teenager -- but that's what teens did. Make a mess.
After the couple looked at the house, Macy called Michael at work. "I think we have a deal, sweetie. They were perfect, and they made an offer. I want you to see the house on Poplar. It's exactly what we're looking for."
Half an hour later, she met her husband and excitedly pulled on his arm and dragged him inside, Mrs. Potter following.
The house was just as perfect at night. Warm but spacious, homey yet airy. She showed him the large rooms, the huge fireplace, the wood floors.
"All it needs is a dead deer head over the mantle," he joked, but she squealed in agreement.
"That will be perfectly kitschy!" She pulled him into the kitchen. "Look at this butcher block island. And look at all this cabinet space, Mike. We can even put a table and chairs in the corner."
She opened the cabinet beneath the sink and the twin boys toppled out.
Macy was startled. "Oh, my!"
Mike jumped back and yelled, "What the hell?"
Mrs. Potter laughed, grabbed the boys' arms and pushed them into another room. "I'm terribly sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Fielding. They just love playing in there. I really do apologize for that."
Macy waved her hand. "No, no, please, no bother. No harm done."
They all laughed while Mike wrote out the check.
Two months later, after carefully packing their lives in cardboard, tissue paper and wooden crates, the Fieldings were moving into their new home on Poplar.
After the moving truck was loaded, Macy took a final look around. She wandered from room to room, saying farewell to familiar corners and fond memories.
"Goodbye, fireplace ... goodbye crazy crooked floor...." She felt a bit silly but had so many memories after so many years. It just felt right, saying goodbye.

 

In her new home, she marched right into the kitchen and pulled the twin boys out of the cabinet beneath the sink.
They looked startled, their green eyes huge.
"I knew I'd find you there! Enough nonsense, young men," she said. "I don't know what the last people who lived here put up with, but I will not tolerate such silliness. No more hiding in there. Do you understand?"
They nodded.
"Good! Now run upstairs and get washed up. You're filthy."
Her boys charged through the kitchen and tore up the staircase.
Macy leaned against the sink, arms folded across her chest.
It had been hard enough saying goodbye to Shannon, but she'd had to when they moved. She only hoped that Henry and Raymond -- what she'd decided to name the twins -- would be half as wonderful as her daughter had been.

 

THE END