Her hair hung around her knees as she pulled up her socks. Loretta dug through dusty boxes until she found the yellow sweatshirt with the faded image of a moose on skis. It still fit. She squeezed into a pair of old leggings and heard the elastic give out. She went through the boxes remembering each thing – where she’d gotten it and what it had meant – until this became torturous and she lay on the floor wanting to die. If the funeral hadn’t made her cry, and sleeping in this house didn’t make her cry, then it was settled, she was not human.
There was a knock at the front door, probably the landlord. Loretta didn’t move. The knocking continued. The doorbell had broken long ago and had never been repaired. When she was sure he was gone, she got up and dumped all the boxes into trash bags. She had until midnight to clear everything out. If she worked hard all day, she could do it. She’d have to fill up the small rental car and make multiple trips to the Salvation Army, or the dump, or some abandoned place where no one would care what she left.
Again she tried to walk into her mother’s room, but it was too terrible. It smelled like a bog. The cat was hiding in there somewhere, Loretta suspected. She left the door open and dragged the bags down the creaky stairs. She drank from the kitchen faucet. There was no food in the house and she decided she wasn’t hungry.