I knew in that moment that something was wrong. Terribly wrong.
I could hear it in the silence, a faint whisper breaking the early morning’s circadian rhythm. It came through the doorway, a silent warning that what was one the other side would linger, a visceral memory that would stay with me long after the shock and pain faded.
"What in God’s name is that smell?!?! Did you guys leave something back there? An apple? Banana?”
The house looks like the scene of an airstrike, courtesy of the painters that invaded in my desperate attempt to make the house we are unable to leave palatable. The unattended emails that once loomed on the edge of four digits are now weighing heavily on the cusp of five. Mother Hubbard would be mortified, and I am not sure where I last left the laundry machine. The school photos that were due four weeks ago have surfaced, and one false move and the mountain of too-small clothes threatens to consume the garage floor.
The garbage disposal is jammed, curtain rods need to be rehung, the irrigation system that once made life easier is leaking mutinous thoughts across the expanses of the yard and the pool has lingered in a state of once-crystalline jealousy. The work day that begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. begins again at 8 p.m. has drained both creativity and desire, and the running shoes that once were my sole reprieve gather dust. The things that people want from me buzz in noisy circles in my mind, a cacophony of demands that weigh one on top of the other until I cannot breathe. And Pooh and Tigger and Piglet are 20 minutes behind schedule on leaving the hundred acre wood this gray and blustery morning.
I do not have time for an armada of fruit flies. In my car.
Watching the airborne infestation, I am torn between giving in to a steering-wheel-meltdown Lindsay Lohan would envy and walking back into the house and battening down the hatches of my bed cover for the unforeseeable future. But my children are watching – my entire world has been watching for cracks in the veneer for years – and I am not permitted the luxury of frailty or weakness. And I fly from moment to moment, barely touching down to taste the life I crave.
Unbuckling the seatbelt I swing my peep-toes out of the car.
“Mom, where are you going?”
“To get a pair of rubber gloves and a plastic bag to find out where those flies are coming from. Something is dead and rotting. Somewhere in this car.”
“It’s not the dead thing I'm worried about. It’s what’s alive that scares the crap out of me.”