This story won first place in the Redwood Writers recent flash fiction contest:
By Laura McHale Holland
He told her he was done. No more. The shrill voice, the cantaloupes rotting on the counter, rows of yellowed newspapers stacked to the ceiling, the ivy encroaching, blocking out the sun. The years filled with promises broken. He’d had enough.
She sat in her recliner as usual. The TV blared another episode of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.” Southern Comfort bottles rattled on the floor as trucks zoomed along the nearby freeway.
“I’m not coming back, Mom,” he said. “Not until you do something for yourself, make some kind of effort.”
Her skeletal tabby meowed and rubbed against his legs. “I’m taking Daisy with me,” he said. “You don’t even care about her anymore.” He lifted the cat in his arms and stomped out the door, slamming it closed with his foot. The home creaked. A condolence card fell from the mantle and landed in her lap.
The card was still there two weeks later when her landlord stopped in. Newspapers had piled up on her front porch, and she wasn’t answering the phone.
The coroner estimated she’d been dead at least a month.