She puts her hand in her coat pocket, looking for keys that aren’t there. He stands on the far side of the kitchen table, arms folded. Other pocket: her hand lights on something both soft and unyielding. She pulls it out and slams it onto the table. It’s a leopard-spotted slug. They both watch as it slowly stretches and rotates to display its crimped orange belly.
‘It’s raining,’ she says, ‘and I was waiting a very long time.’
She remembers now where her keys are. She threw them into the empty flowerpot by the front door when she realised he’d finally made good his threat to change the locks. She needs to rescue them. Eight keys on a bottle-opener keyring, one for each front door she has lived behind. Whatever she plants next in that pot will need to be slug-proof. Something with a tough barky stem, maybe. Something thorny.
‘Do I even want to know where you spent last night?’ he asks.
She remembers margaritas, the sting of salt and lime on the cut on her lip. A sofa somewhere, with scratchy tweed upholstery and her coat balled up for a pillow. Waking in the morning relieved to be not yet sober. She licks her lip, teasing the taste of her blood out of it and remembers she’s hungry.
‘I’m sorry,’ she says.
He looks at his watch. ‘I have to get back to work, this is my lunch break.’
‘Will you do the daycare pick up?’
He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a shiny door key, its teeth frilled with burrs. A copy cut already. He sets it down beside the slug which recoils from the sudden intrusion of metal in its path across the table.
She takes off her coat.
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