Every morning, she’d find Henry in his blue plaid pajamas, sitting at the dining table with a newspaper and half a cup of too-sweet, pale coffee. Good Henry. Since his wife had taken ill, he always made sure to keep quiet while she slept in; and he no longer bothered her for his soft scrambled eggs and dry toast breakfast.
“Can’t you smell that, Henry?” she’d ask upon entering the kitchen.
The odor was perplexing, and while Henry never complained, the smell had been vexing his poorly wife for weeks. She’d cuss over a bucket of diluted bleach, her daily ritual, inhaling the fumes through flared nostrils. She slopped the disinfectant all over the cracked linoleum, swirling the mop from corner to corner. Then she’d clean out all of the cupboards, soaking the old porous wood with fresh bleach water. Henry couldn’t stop her. She’d scrub and scrub until her knuckles were raw and splitting. By the time she was finished, defeated by the persistent stink that only she could smell, the lunch hour was long expired.
“Are you sure we don’t have mice rotting in the walls?”
But Henry never would answer his mad wife’s questions.
Henry never said anything at all.
© 2019 Kindra M. Austin