One Woman’s Junk

L. N. Holmes

 

I am happy when everyone dies. Secret places like corporate offices and private parking lots are suddenly open to me. I sift through the remnants of Cincinnati’s population, shielding my mouth and nose with a bandana I lifted from a dollar store. My favorite things are the diaries, the sticky notes, the to-do lists. You can find them in McMansions, where the residents’ wealth gave them time to abuse the colored corpses of dead trees. These ghosts of the suburbs copied recipes from television shows and cut out workout routines from Seventeen. They were sure of tomorrow, demanded it as a human right.

Returning to the north half of Over-the-Rhine, my apartment fills with the valuables of others. The white envelopes of my student loan bills are buried underneath sapphire necklaces, mahogany cutting boards, classic game consoles. I’m rich—the Queen of the real Queen City.

Carefully, so my fingers don’t puncture their flesh, I prop my late parents up against the wall. I sit on a leaning kitchen chair and spread my arms wide. “Look at what I’ve achieved.”

Puffy lids present narrow slices of my parents’ eyes. I decide to bring others, to entreat unbiased praise. There are plenty of ripe pandemic victims to pick. I roll them onto an abandoned ambulance stretcher, strap them on with duct tape, and drag them up my complex’s stairs. I unpeel and sit each one on either side of my parents. It’s not long before I have to stack them to conserve space. My hands begin to smell like the durian I bought from the corner supermarket. Unimpressed with our guests, my parents glower. I decide to lie behind a seven-layer stack of the dead. I close my eyes so I can no longer see them watching me.

 

L. N. Holmes (known to many as LeeAnn Adams) is the publishing assistant at Tethered by Letters and the fiction co-editor for Blue
River. She’s a half-fellowship student in Creighton University’s MFA
program, where she studies fiction. Her work has appeared in Vestal Review, F(r)iction, Obra, and other publications.