Stain

I see a woman from my doorway
painting the side of her house with
her hands. She’s wearing a gray t-shirt
with no logo and jeans that have a bleach
stain in the shape of lake Michigan on the
left thigh. It seems strange at first, but my
attention quickly shifts when I notice a
package at the edge of the driveway.
It’s not the type of package you
would normally get in the mail, but more
old fashioned looking with butcher’s twine,
tied in a bow, holding it closed.
The address tag was a small piece of
paper cut in the shape of a witch’s hat,
and it had a name, that wasn’t mine, written
on it in dark ink. I could feel my cloudy
neighbor’s eyes and I looked up from the
tag to see her waving at me with one of her mint
green hands that now matched the wall she stood
next to. She called something out that I couldn’t
quite hear, but she made a motion with her hands
telling me to open the box. She went right back to painting
after that and I took the package back inside with me, and
set it down on the kitchen table. I dug some scissors
out of the cabinet under the sink, and cut through
the string and the wrappings. When I opened the box
a light filled the room, and it was bright enough for
me to feel my pupils close out of panic.
I held my arm in front of my face creating a
band of shadow over my eyes. Then the light slowly dimmed
and I could finally get a look at what was inside.
They were miniature models of her house and mine
complete with a small figure of
her so accurate it even included the bleach
stain on her jeans. In the middle of the
road between the houses were words
that looked carved by a knife into the
plastic. “Look up” they said, but I didn’t.
Instead, I just threw it all out the door.

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