Words Unspoken

Shae thought the yard unkempt, but the rent seemed reasonable enough. The door appeared to have the engravings of a southwestern artist. Carefully, she knocked.

It was the only house on the block with shade on its lawn. An unpruned mesquite tree welcomed the cactus wren and the occasional stray cat. Legumes and dead leaves littered the gray stepping stones of the suelo. Dingy and weathered, the front showed signs it was once a bright white with bold brown trimming.

A stout woman wearing a tank top and shorts forged a smile. She introduced herself, and Shae in kind.

First things first. Tammy was an ardent fan of The Standpat Gazette. She informed Shae of this without hesitation. Tammy was hoping this fact would scare Shae off, but at this point in Shae’s journey, it was going to take more than a subscription to an unpopular publication to send her looking elsewhere.

While showing Shae around the house, Tammy laid out the terms of renting a room, and Shae agreed. Christmas decor was up all year, and in mid-November, the white lights and garland above the kitchen sink reminded Tammy of the work she would not have to do.

Sunday mornings in the Haynesburg household consisted of laundry-turning and a trip to the local eatery for the sandwich special. Today was obviously busier than usual.

Moving took all of an hour as Shae’s belongings easily fit into the back of Tammy’s truck. Shae traveled light, always with one figurative foot in a door and one foot out.

Facing north, Shae’s bedroom was furnished with a cherry oak desk and twin bed. The floor and walls reminded her of the exterior with the exception of mother nature’s touch. The room was clean enough. Organizing was going to have to wait.

Bacon nuggets saturated the air with their smell. Tammy offered them on a blue Italian saucer.

Sipping lukewarm coffee, Tammy asked, “Don’t you think it’s true?”

The Standpat Gazette headline read: “Ethnic Cleansing is a Hoax.”

Shae’s eyes glazed over at the hummingbirds vying for their breakfast on the back porch.

“No. My days are numbered.”

“Oh! Don’t be silly! There’s no way–“

Shae wanted to tell Tammy there was no way to have it both ways, but having a roof over her head for that month was more important. Biding her time was an arduous reminder of her resourcefulness.


“Shae! I absolutely love her!”

LaQuinta Hall, one of the local news anchors, was covering yesterday’s mass shooting.

“What’s her name?” Shae asked.

Quickly switching off the tube and telling Shae when to vacuum, Tammy made it evident that she was the queen of the castle.

“She’s so… smart!”

“What’s her name?”

When Tammy shrugged her shoulders, Shae decided to arrange for a Lyft to Meryl’s house. This wouldn’t be the last time she crashed on her auntie’s couch. At this point, Shae had to accept what she read between the lines. Tammy’s wasn’t the house, and this wasn’t the time.