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Mommy worked too late under the fluorescents to fight the evil black mold creeping up the wall to Baby’s nursery. She hiked the mile-high staircase and collapsed on her trampoline mattress, curled under its fax paper linens. She forgot about the hollow bookshelves long ago. The magazines, she used as cat litter.

Daddy loathed the lightbulbs that popped in the kitchen like housing markets, shorting out the circuits so the beer wasn’t cold. He swore the holes in the plaster were haunted. His knuckles were dry and his razor was dull and he hid inside the television because the floor kept sinking down down down, and

Mommy, don’t you think it’s time to teach the kids to swim?

So they stuffed their department store suitcases with their clearance rack clothes. Mommy folded Daddy’s Mommy’s doilies carefully around the ghost town picture frames Mommy got that Christmas when Daddy wasn’t Daddy and Mommy wasn’t Mommy.

Then Mommy and Daddy packed Baby and Bobby in the backseat.

Daddy swiped through lists of unvisited beaches and ballet halls and set course for the little white neighborhood on top of the hill where they could see everything.

Doggy howled as they disappeared down the highway.

Kitty didn’t even see them leave.

 

Alexa Zinke is a junior at Harvard University, where she studies Social Studies and Psychology and plays on the Quidditch team.

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