'Visitor' by Mary Lynn Reed

"Do you use all these rooms?" she asks, her hand barely resisting a perch on the hip.

"Not equally, but I get upstairs often. And I'm all over the downstairs, all the time."

"Hmm."

The newly painted laundry room does not impress the way you'd hoped. Not that you painted it last summer to impress anyone. It was just for you. But now all the choices you've made, every detail on every surface, is carrying some larger weight. With her standing beside you, each new reveal is a test. A probe.

"You like bright colors," she says, flatly.

"Yes, I do—"

"Green is my color. Dark shades," she says, running her hands over the back of a chair you stained red in your garage fifteen years ago.

You edge closer, your shoulder gently brushing hers.

"Do I get the full tour?" she asks, the spark returning to her eye.

"Sure." And you're off to the next boldly painted room. Red, yellow, blue.

You can't explain your house though it makes perfect sense to you. So many rooms. The wide, open spaces. But you like that she's in it, asking what's beyond the next door. You show her everything though you didn't expect you would. Even the far back room piled with boxes and miscellaneous crap that you must go through – someday. You've lived here too long and the evidence is piled high. You didn't prep this room for probing new eyes – never expecting you'd let her in – so you're holding your breath for what buried nugget of your soul might rise out of all that morass.

You're surprised by the answer. She keeps surprising you and that's why she's here. She doesn't scold for the mess or peer where she shouldn't. Instead her fingers find the edge of a small sculpture tucked on a shelf. A smooth, curving naked woman's form.

"You should have this out," she says. "Somewhere more visible."

And she's right, of course. About that, she is definitely right.

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