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by Judy Cabito

Before kicking the garbage can, Mary Anne slammed the garage door behind her. The black cat jetted out the pet door, under the rambling rosebushes and headed to the neighbor’s yard.

Once inside the house, Mary Anne slammed the door; took a key out of her apron and unlocked the cupboard. From there she retrieved a teapot and filled in with water, set it on the stove and turned up the heat. She pulled out of the cupboard two cups inscribed MOM and DAD.

Harold toppled in through the door slamming it shut. He sat down at the table and put his head in his head and whimpered, “Why? Why us?”

“Damned if I know. I thought we were good people, ‘so kind and understanding.’ Isn’t that what they said to us?” Mary Anne said.

“That’s what we get for not reading the fine print. No returns.”

A shadow ran past the window. They both looked out at the backyard.

“Who was that?”

“I don’t know. How can you tell one from the other? You’d better go look. If they get loose again, we’re doomed.”

“Damn if I’m going out there,” Mary Ann barked.

Harold got up, pushed his chair across the room. “Damn it all Mary Anne; it’s always me, never you. Did you forget it was your idea? It would’ve never happened if it hadn’t been for you. All those tears and begging.”

“You went along with it. It’s not like it was all me. You did the renovations in the garage, the attic, and built the shed out back. And what about that mobile home you dragged home and parked in the driveway? And don’t forget about those cribs you built. And the bunk room with ten beds.” She wiggled an accusing finger, the only one she had left on that hand.

Harold opened the door. “This is the last time, Mary Anne, that is if I come back alive. You hear me, Mary Anne? You hear me?”

“You’ll act the same way as last time Harold, looking at those soft faces and cooing, thinking of how cute, thinking of all the promises of a new tomorrow.”

Harold left out the back door, slamming it, His footsteps down the porch thundered. Mary Anne kept vigilance on the back window; shadows filled it. She pushed herself up against the wall of the living room. A disturbing noise came from the yard: screeching, weeping, whimpers.  Peaking through the door, she saw a swirl of a hundred shadows scurrying around.

“No,” she screamed.

Harold crashed in through the kitchen door. “The horror, Mary Anne, the horror.”