Clare Franklin sat back in her arm chair. Blue haired, bitter, old woman who never wore her heart on her sleeve; such gestures were deemed stupid and pointless.
“Mom?” Clare’s daughter called from the kitchen. “Would you like a glass of lemonade?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” Clare’s tone was harsh; she had always resented people. Her husband, who had long since died, her children, her children’s children, people she didn’t know; she hated them all. The doctor had diagnosed her with social anxiety disorder when she was only 10 years old.
Clare’s oldest daughter, Maggie, appeared in the kitchen door way, carrying a glass of lemonade; she was wearing a light blue maternity dress, her big tummy showing slightly under the waves of blue fabric. She sat down on the couch opposite of where Clare sat.
“So how are you, mom?” Maggie asked, trying to fake a smile. Clare said nothing. She had forgotten that Maggie was expecting her third baby in May.
Clare didn’t know what to say. Her chest was starting to tighten, hands starting to tremble; her head becoming foggy, as if she was going to faint. And then she heard the noise.
“What was that?” she asked Maggie.
“What was what?”
Clare put her finger to her mouth. “Listen. Don’t you hear that?”
“Hear what, mom?” Maggie shook her head. “Mom, where are you going?”
Clare started slowly up the steps to the second floor of the house, with Maggie following her. When they reached the second floor, Clare screamed.
“A squirrel! There’s a squirrel in my house!”
Maggie looked around but didn’t see a thing. “What squirrel?”
“Right there, running into the bedroom,” Clare started towards the bedroom door.
“Mom, wait.” Maggie grabbed at her mother’s arm, but Clare pulled away.
“Leave me be! I am going to kill that mother fucking squirrel.” Clare walked into the bedroom; the squirrel was nowhere to be seen.
“Mom, I don’t really think that there’s a squirrel in here,” Maggie said, following her mother into the bedroom.
“There is a squirrel in here and when I catch it, I am going to kill it.” Clare bent over on the floor to look for the squirrel; it wasn’t there. She opened the closet; the squirrel wasn’t there either. “Come out here, you mother fucking squirrel.”
“Mom. There are no squirrels in your house,” Maggie said in a reasoning tone that she would use with her kids.
“Damn right they are.” Clare said opening a dresser drawer; again there was no squirrel.
Right then, she felt it in her hair. “It’s in my hair! It’s in my hair!”
“There’s nothing in your hair,” Maggie said.
Clare screamed and ran around, trying to the squirrel out of her hair. “Get it out! Get it out!” As she screamed, she spit out her dentures.
“Mom, calm down. There’s no squirrel in your hair.”
Clare continued to scream, long after ambulance came to take her away to the hospital, where she still screams to this day.