Linda Maye Adams

Writing in Public, Story 6, Scene 2


2.

The chill followed Nikki out of the house like it wasn’t ready to give her up.  But the brightness of the finches warbling helped her shake off the shadows she had accumulated inside the house.  She smiled as a brown rabbit froze on the lawn, staring at her with a big black eye.  After a moment, he hopped for the bushes with amazing speed and agility, disappearing under an azalea.

She sighed, eyes on the spot where the rabbit had gone.  A pink blossom shivered.

She wished things were simpler.

If anything, inheriting this house had made everything more complicated.  The lawyer’s announcement had created a lot of chaos in the family, and even with her boyfriend Brian.  Everyone had an opinion, and most of them left Nikki out of that opinion.

She owned this house.

She still had to repeat the words to herself as she gazed up it.  As a child, she thought it looked like a haunted house right out of Scooby Doo, Where Are You? Now she thought the house looked like a stately gentleman who needed some love.

Gentleman was right, though.  There was something very masculine about the house, in the color choices and the spare elegance.  Built with her great-great-grandfather’s hands and eye for design.  He’d picked piece of wallpaper, every piece of furniture, and even the deep, rich browns that dominated the exterior.  Like he wanted the house dressed up for entertaining.

And she was going to have to make a decision about it.  Soon.

She turned to head down to her car parked at the curb.  A collar jangled and a frilly white dog about the size of a cat bounded up to her, dragging a red leash.  The dog jumped up on her with light, delicate paws.

Nikki knelt to pet the dog on the head.  Soft fur, baby soft.  Fluff all over the ears.  Had to be a girl dog with all the flippery.  Too unmanly to be a male dog.

The dog jumped up again, smacking her chin with a pink tongue and giving her a whiff of dog breath.

“You got into someone’s bait, didn’t you?” she said.

The dog wagged her plumed tail.

Footsteps skipping across asphalt made her look up.  A man was hurrying toward Nikki in a panicked run.  The frilly dog had to be his.  He did not match the dog.

He had a goofiness about him, and she would have called him a man who was perpetually a little lopsided. Dark hair threaded with gray and unruly. He was dressed in a chambray shirt, untucked, and jeans that had to be old favorites.  Bony bare feet.

“I’m sorry,” he blurted.  “Molly got away from me.”

“It’s okay,” Nikki said.  “She’s just been lying to me that she doesn’t get enough petting.”

Molly barked.  All these people were not paying enough attention to her.

Nikki scratched her neck in the dog sweet spot.  Molly was soaking it up.

“She doesn’t take to everyone,” the man said with a small smile.  “I’m Randy Southworth.  From up the street.”

He tried to point, but his arms were full of Molly.

“Nikki Chandler.”

“Oh.”

Disappointment clung to the word, though he tried to hide it.  Molly twisted around, trying to climb up his chest, her pink tongue flicking out.

“Well, I’d better be getting back,” he said, like he was trying to figure out what do with his hands.

Nikki watched him head down the street, puzzled.  It was like he’d met her before and been disappointed.

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