Hello, everyone! It's Tuesday, and that means a new chapter of We Keep On. If you missed the last installments of this contemporary short story, check out the first two chapters HERE, and the third chapter HERE. Today's chapter is written by Elysia Regina. Let us know your thoughts, and catch up with Matt and Elysia on their Twitter accounts!
I would be more freaked out if not for the fact that the racoon looks totally at home in the cabinet, and doesn’t seem to be the least bit bothered by me. It’s sitting in Millicent’s cupboard in a blue bowl, and has a peanut butter cracker between its little black fingers. Once the surprise wears off, I see how cute the thing is. The black around his eyes makes him look like he’s wearing a mask. But that still doesn’t explain why on earth he’s IN THE CUPBOARD.
Millicent walks into the kitchen behind me, clicking her tongue as she steps into the room. It’s like she’s a magnet, because as soon as it spots her, the racoon leaps out of the cabinet, little black fingers spread like a superhero’s, and lands in Millicent’s arms. The peanut butter cracker sticks out of its tiny mouth.
“Who’s a good nugget? You are, you’re a good nugget.” Millicent whispers to the creature in a baby voice. She looks back up at me, and Toby rushes up behind her, no longer holding the photo of youthful Millicent. “This is Cheerio.”
Of course she can’t just be a normal old lady--I suppose that was already out of the question--and own twelve cats. Instead she owns a feral animal named Cheerio.
“Is that, ah, safe?” I ask.
Millicent laughs. “Of course. Little Cheerio’s been with me for two years. He’s just little because he was the runt of the litter.” Millicent then sets Cheerio on the ground, and he waddles off into the living room; his hind end swings back and forth like a streetwalker as he disappears amongst the cardboard boxes.
Millicent swings open the pale pink, fifties-style fridge, complete with well-endowed bikini girl and yellow smiley face magnets. “While we’re in the kitchen, would either of you like a drink?”
Toby and I exchange a glance, and I’m about to tell her that we’re not exactly of age--hence our mother giving us a ride here--when she pulls out a pitcher of a somewhat toxic but fruity-looking liquid.
“It’s my famous punch.” She snaps her fingers in the air. “It’ll snap you right into style.” She smiles, the blue on her eyelids batting up and down as she blinks.
"Yeah, sure,” Toby answers first. “We’d love some.”
It takes Millicent approximately five minutes to gather three matching cups and exactly four ice cubes for each one, and by that time, Toby and I are sitting cross-legged on the plush brown carpet, each digging into a cardboard box. Millicent passes us each a cup, and the condensation is cold on my hand. I take a sip of the punch, and it’s sour and sweet--the kind of stuff that will dye your tongue red for a whole day.
I pull out a fish tank from a slightly soggy box, and immediately plug my nose when the bowl is in the air. It’s empty, but at the bottom of the tank, amongst algae-covered red pebbles, is the corpse of a sad, sad goldfish.
“Oh my gosh,” I say.
Toby bursts into laughter. “Marley. Your hands are all up in that fish goop.” And he’s totally right. I’m holding the tank by the top of it, and my fingers are pressed up against greenish-brown slime. Gross. Gross. Grosssss.
Millicent sets down her glass and scurries over. “Oh, that’s got a great story. I’m keeping that one.” I discreetly wipe my fingers off on the carpet and stare up at Millicent, expectant of an explanation. “It was my husband’s favorite fish.” She smiles, reminiscent of the stinky creature--whether her husband or the fish, I’m not sure. “Cheerio got the best of his tank, but Martin said that if I got to keep my Cheerio, he got to keep his fish. I didn’t break my promise then, and I won’t break it now.”
I’m not looking forward to seeing what’s in the box by the underwear.
TO BE CONTINUED...
TUNE IN ON FRIDAY FOR THE NEXT INSTALLMENT OF WE KEEP ON