Fall 2010, Volume 9

Fiction by Monica Holmes

Midnight Visitation

There is a man in the kitchen making chocolate milk.  Ann stands still, holding her breath with one hand resting lightly on the swinging door that stands between her and the man in the kitchen.  A burglar.  A burglar, she is sure of it.

She had been woken up by the unmistakable sound of a cabinet banging shut.  It made her sit up straight, startled, but not confused.  She felt like she had been waiting for that sound to come out of the darkness.  She crept down the hallway, forgetting her slippers.  Outside the kitchen, the wood is icy under her feet and it glows green in the hallway night light.

Ann listens to the scrape of a spoon in the container of chocolate powder.  The clink of metal and glass and stirring.  She thinks, it is amazing, this man is calm enough to make a glass of milk while robbing her.  She moves to check the silverware in the dining room, but stops herself.  What good would it do?  If it’s gone, it’s gone. The silverware had been a wedding gift from Bill’s parents.  They had used it for their first Thanksgiving twenty-three years ago.  She looks down at her wedding ring.  Twenty-three years ago in this same house, which has always been too big for them. 

Ann had used the silverware because she was supposed to, because it was expensive and fancy and it had been a gift.  She used it even though it had just been the four of them for dinner: Bill and herself, his parents.  Just the four of them, in the new three bedroom.  Too big for them.  It had been too big for them then and it had stayed too big for twenty-three years.

Another cabinet door bangs shut and Ann backs away from the swinging door, expecting the stranger to come through it with the glass in his hands.  Instead, she hears a heavy sigh and the sound of a body lowering into a chair.  Incredible.  This man is now sitting at her kitchen table. Ann leans toward the swinging door again, trying to distinguish more sounds.  The kitchen sounds empty, but this man could be reading her newspaper for all she knows.

She looks back down the hallway and considers Bill still in bed, the vaporizer whirring.  She didn’t wake him when she rose and she doesn’t want to wake him now.  The rest of the house is empty. A hot anger fills her chest and she stares hard at the grain in the wooden door.  Bill is asleep and she is alone in this house.  Alone in this big, dark house, facing a stranger in the kitchen who is trying to steal her silverware.  He is not the kind of husband one shakes awake in the middle of the night.  He is not the kind of husband who takes pride in investigating the squeaks and flutters his wife hears in the darkness.  He is sensible, a heavy sleeper.

Ann frowns and places the palms of both hands on the smooth wood of the door.  She pauses a moment and then straightens both arms forcibly, swinging the door far out away from her.  She sees the back of the man sitting at the kitchen table.  He either doesn’t hear the door or doesn’t care that someone is coming in upon him and his glass of chocolate milk.  Ann strides through the open door and has made it halfway across the kitchen before she realizes the man is wearing Bill’s shirt.  This burglar is sitting at her table, drinking her milk, reading her paper, and wearing her husband’s orange Broncos t-shirt. 

She pauses, and glances at the countertop by the sink.  This man has her husband’s habit of leaving his spoon, covered in milk and chocolate powder, on the counter.  He has also left out the gallon jug of milk.  The red cap is unscrewed, lying in a small puddle of milk that will be dry and solid in the morning.  Ann sighs and shakes her head.  She screws the cap back on the milk and carries it to the fridge.  She opens it, standing for a moment in the cool light before replacing the jug on its shelf.  The man at the table shows no signs of hearing her movements.  She crosses to him and places her hands on his shoulders, kissing the top of his head before telling him to remember to turn off the light when he leaves the kitchen.


BIO:  Monica Holmes is a Creative Writing and Literature student at CSULB. She hopes to receive her teaching credential in English and teach at the High School level. She dedicates all her writing to her father, who was first to teach her that there is a "t" in "listen."