Eight a.m. on a Saturday morning, Rachel opened the door, clad only in her robe and fuzzy slippers, without even a quick look through the peephole. A mob of people pushed past her and poured into her house. They picked up and examined various items in each room, shouting at Rachel, “How much you want for it?” or arguing amongst each other, “I saw it first. Give that back to me; it’s mine.”
Rachel did not shout, “Get out of my house.” Her tongue struggled to form words.
A man yelled at her, “I’ll give you thirty dollars for the library table.”
“I paid one-hundred twenty-five for it,” Rachel managed.
“I only got thirty,” and without waiting for a reply, the man tossed random bills at her and lifted up the table.
He almost stepped on her toes. She had bought the table with her husband at an antique shop a handful of years before when they were first married.
“Please,” Rachel said to no one in particular, “I’m not selling anything. There isn’t any sale.”
A woman began taking down from the wall a portrait of Rachel’s great-grandmother. “I’m sorry, but that’s a family heirloom.”
“I’m not buying it for the picture,” the woman said. “I’m buying it for the frame. Would a personal check be okay?”
Rachel considered the portrait a guardian angel of sorts, her great-grandmother’s face peering down upon them and offering protection.
Another woman hooked a bungee cord to the collar of Rachel’s dog, which had been frantically barking and running among the crowd.
“You can’t take my dog,” Rachel cried, grabbing the woman’s arm.
“Don’t worry. I’ll give it a good home. Your yard is much too small for a dog this size.” The woman yanked her arm away and placed a small stack of bills on top of the money pile forming in the middle of Rachel’s family room floor.
Rachel felt faint and sat down onto the leather ottoman. She and her husband once joked about how they would divide up their possessions should their marriage ever end. They had squabbled over some of the items. When her husband called for the big screen TV, she claimed the surround sound system. She knew her daughter was the one thing she’d never give up, and Rachel settled for the school year and her husband summers, alternating Christmas. “Of course it will never happen,” her husband said. “I know,” Rachel replied.
“Excuse me, would you mind moving?” a man asked. “This goes with the recliner.” He started lifting the ottoman up before her bottom had left the cushion. The couch had gone moments before. Rachel recalled that her husband had asked for the recliner and ottoman in their dividing of possessions. Something about seeing them both go felt right.
Glass shattered when an old man backed his Rascal into a floor lamp with a stained-glass torchiere, a wedding present from her husband’s uncle. “Break it, you buy it,” someone laughed.
“Oh, those slippers are so adorable,” a woman said, bending down to remove them from Rachel’s feet. Someone else removed the diamond studs from her earlobes. Rachel tightened her robe’s sash and folded her hands together in front of her body as if praying or pleading.
The crowd thinned as the rooms became bare. “We got a few bargains today. Did you see the curtains with the rooster prints? So tacky.” Rachel recognized some of her neighbors. She had shared family recipes and secrets and summer grilling with these people.
She looked at the pile of money, mostly made up of one-dollar bills. Someone had left a silver Zippo on her kitchen counter. She did not know if the lighter had been forgotten or served as payment. It was engraved, “To L.”
Rachel leaned down to pick up the stray bills and coins throughout the house where her belongings once were. She cut her heel on a piece of glass and winced. Someone had wrenched the medicine cabinet in the downstairs bathroom from the wall, a handful of coins in the sink basin. She needed a cup of coffee, but the coffee maker was gone, along with the mugs, even the mug her daughter had painted for her as a Mother’s Day present, which never held enough coffee for Rachel’s liking. Her young daughter who spoke with a lisp, upstairs asleep.
Rachel ran to the stairs. Coins and bills rested on each step, and she almost tripped on all of the money when she raced to the top. A fifty-dollar bill was sticking out from underneath her daughter’s bedroom door. Rachel held her breath as she placed her hand onto the doorknob. The corners of her mouth stretched, unable to determine whether to go up or down when she turned the knob to see if anything was left inside.
Dana Knott’s writing has appeared in The American Journal of Poetry, Bitter Oleander, Emrys Journal, The Daily Drunk Mag, and Parhelion. Currently, she is the Library Director at Antioch University in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
image: Amee Nassrene Broumand