A Man With a Slingshot Drives Them Away

Aslightly ajarrabella turned the key and opened the front door.

“Hello?”

She waited. “Hello? It’s Arabella.”

She waited another moment, and then took a single step inside.

“Hello?” She gently shut the door behind her. The latch clicked.

“Hello? It’s Arabella. Hello? Anyone here?”

She walked into the living room. The room was empty except for a brown leather reading chair and a floor lamp situated beside the fireplace.

“Helloooo…Anyone here?”

Smokey shadows on the wallpapered walls marked the places where framed pictures once hung. The areas of untarnished hardwood floors marked where carpets once lay. The ghosts of a life once lived reverberated from every corner.

Arabella took quiet, respectful steps through the dining room into the kitchen. The counters, sink and stove top were covered in thick dust. She opened a cupboard. Empty. Of course.

Another chair, one meant for a desk or dining table, sat in the corner of the family room. Beside it on the floor was a bedside lamp, barely tall enough to reach the seat of the chair. Arabella turned the lamp switch. No power. Of course.

She glanced at her watch. Maybe she had the wrong time, or maybe the wrong day. She took her phone from her purse and checked her calendar, then scrolled through text messages. She had it right: The 31st at 2:00 pm, at the house.

She sent a text. “I’m here. You coming?” She waited. One minute, two. Three minutes. No reply. Five minutes.

Arabella stopped before leaving. Turning to look around one more time, she grimaced, feeling an odd obligation to speak, as if she was addressing the former owner.

“Yes. This is nice. Very nice. I’ll take it.”

As Arabella walked down the driveway, she thought she heard something whoosh by her head.