Charlie got home around 8:30 pm and it was still light out. The warm July sun highlighted just how much her yard had died. The only plant not wilting yet was a Paper Birch tree she had fallen in love with when the realtor had first brought her to see the house. She prayed it wouldn’t succumb to whatever poison had been spewed on her yard.
Inside, she set her purse and keys down on the table and locked the door behind her. Her plan for the evening was to soak in a hot bubble bath with a book.
As she ran the water for her bath she suddenly remembered that she had left her book in the kitchen. She paused halfway down the stairs as she caught a whiff of a familiar woodsy smell. Where had she smelt that before?
The smell stuck in her nostrils and she racked her brain as she walked into the kitchen trying to figure out what it was. An unpleasant memory was associated with the smell, but she couldn’t seem catch it. It floated just out of reach. Every time she got close the memory dissolved into nothing.
She picked up her novel from the kitchen counter when noticed that the deadbolt on the kitchen door was unlocked. She was sure she had locked it before she went upstairs. She froze and listened wondering who had unlocked it and if they were in the house
She slowly tiptoed into the living room, turning on lights as she went, scanning behind and under furniture as she moved. The woodsy-earthy smell was getting stronger and turning more artificial the stronger it got. It burned her nostrils as she breathed. That’s when it hit her who was in her house. When she was sure he wasn’t in the living room she began going up the stairs past the pictures she had on the wall.
One of the pictures had been replaced and there was his creepy smiling face. Mark. The son of one of the previous owners of the house. She gripped the handrail and continued walking upstairs.
She found him sitting naked in her drawn bath.
Her brother was right. She was angry.