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by DS Levy

The house is white with brown trim. Out front, an oversized flower pot and some white river rock. The realtor’s description: “Shows owner pride with the many updates in this inviting 3 Bedroom, 2 Full Bath, 1380 S.F. Ranch, built in 1990, in Pleasant Cove Subdivision with 2-car garage.”

Sometimes I think I want to move. I’ve lived in this same house for thirty-four years. I imagine living in strange rooms — so much more modern than my own, light pouring in through large bow windows and transoms. I see myself reclining on the sofa with a book. But I never go see a single property; I’m a looker.

I knew this house would go on the market. I just didn’t expect it so soon. But there it is: front, back, side views. A real multimedia presentation. In the hallway, no jackets or scarves on the hall tree, no shoes beneath or bag tossed on the wooden bench.

The living room is neat and tidy. As if no one ever lived there. The bookshelves are uncluttered, the sofa void of throws or pillows. The roll-top desk is closed tight, the swivel chair sits quietly underneath.

The kitchen is immaculate. Granite countertops, and whimsical touches: a black and yellow sugar bowl shaped like a bee, a bowl of bright fruit. An unopened bottle of wine. Sheila Fields never enjoyed a glass of relaxing red or any drop of alcohol.

Behind the glistening kitchen sink, on the windowsill, are a pair of green ceramic male and female frogs dressed like people, and a ceramic blue tennis shoe with a large red beetle on the toe. I bought those frogs for Sheila years ago, but now I can’t remember why.

The main bedroom’s roomy, but sterile: a monochromatic quilt and matching pillows, a gold lamp, the sheered curtains purposely open. The pristine nightstand and laminate dresser are devoid of personal touches.

I ran into a mutual friend in the grocery a few months after it’d happened. She said that Sheila hadn’t shown up at school. The kids adored her, the woman said. The principal contacted a family member, who drove over to the house and found Sheila in the bedroom. Of course, we both wondered why she’d done it. On the surface, we agreed, Sheila’s life had seemed full, even happy. Well, what do any of us really know? I’d lost touch with Sheila. I didn’t mention that to the woman. There’d been no hard feelings between us, we’d just drifted apart.

I zoom in on the white carpeting in the bedroom. It has the look of being steam-raked over, a lot of diagonals etched into the plush nap. Try as I might, I can’t see the stain.

DS Levy’s work has been published in Spelk, New Flash Fiction Review, Little Fiction, the Alaska Quarterly Review, Columbia, Brevity, and others. Her chapbook of flash fiction, A Binary Heart, was published by Finishing Line Press.