Every morning, she’d find Henry in his pajamas, sitting at the table with a newspaper, and a cup of sweet, pale coffee. Good Henry, since his wife had fallen ill with madness, he kept quiet and no longer bothered her for his breakfast.
“Can’t you smell that, Henry?” she’d ask.
Something in the kitchen smelled to her like animal death; the odor was perplexing, and had been vexing her for weeks. She cussed over a bucket of diluted bleach—her daily ritual—inhaling the fumes through flared nostrils as she slopped the disinfectant all over the cracked linoleum, swirling the mop from corner to corner. Then she’d clean out all of the cupboards, soaking the old porous wood with bleach water, scrubbing and scrubbing until her knuckles were raw and splitting. By the time she was finished, defeated by the persistent stink that only she could smell, the lunch hour had long since expired.
“Are you sure we don’t have mice rotting in the walls?”
But Henry never would answer his mad wife’s questions.
Henry never said anything at all.
© Kindra M. Austin