She had a nose. And that girl, her nose knew; it knew that he probably had no interest in her. As soon as he walked in the door and saw all the dead animals staring at him, she could smell his uncomfortable jitter. The gossamer curtains, her great aunt’s hand-crocheted lace, put a dusty glow on the room.
All he saw was iniquity; what the hell had he just walked into? This was the Pet Semetary; it was a Goosebumps book, it was a horror movie that he thought only existed in his memory. The harbinger should have been the eyes staring him in the face. There wasn’t just one pair ogling him, there was 15, 25, 40 little furry tails all perked up like it was Christmas morning. Eyes, clearly marbles, made to look like they did when their hearts were still beating. His exegesis of the room had left him with nothing but panic.
When she looked at them, the fruit of her labors, her body warmed, her spine shivered. She was a proud mother. She was proud to call herself a taxidermist. She could never deal with pet deaths as a kid and now, she didn’t have to. She was sure he would understand. He had a good upbringing; wonderful table manners. She liked that. So far so good. He was admiring the meticulous stitching she had done on Masianelo, her hamster from age seven. He showed promise; all the others had been so eager to come home with her, the door would open, and they would flout about. Like fish out of water, they would walk in and start to flop around, gasping for air.
He couldn’t understand the need for a hamster as a mantel piece; or for the goldfish hanging from the ceiling like a chandelier. He had heard rumours about her and some of the oddities. But it was intriguing then and he thought the whole taxidermy thing was just for those drab impecunious times. The stench of loneliness was overbearing. The small dog, whose name plate read “Olivié,” that sat next to the pillow on her bed only exacerbated the odor. She slept with him, she had said, and three others, every night. He was the silent type and didn’t particularly mind her garrulous nature. But the further in he got, the more he just wanted her to shut the fuck up.
She really thought he might be the one. She could talk to him for hours; he was a great listener. And on top of that, he thought Olivié was cute, which was a first for a boy. She could imagine the three of them together in the morning; her with her knitting, him with the morning paper. Hopefully he will stay the night. What a joy! There hadn’t been any guests there in a long while, not even her family. She longed for affection, but that was a secret to even her mother.
“I have to get up early in the morning and take my sister to school. I’m going to head home,” he said trying to dodge any further communication.
She prodded, “You could stay just for a little longer. I’ll put on some tea.”
“No, no. I’m fine,” he pleaded. She was very good at putting herself between him and the exit. He insisted he had to leave, over and over again. And then, she snapped. She gave this long harangue about how he had to stay, how she needed him, how he belonged there, how she would get him the morning paper and how all the others didn’t get her like he did. He was nervous and all of the sudden, all of the eyes were penetrating. They went right through his heart, which sounded like a war drum, pounding against his rib cage. He hit her; fist, the human defense mechanism. And ran; he was touching the door knob. It was cold and brassy. He felt the terrycloth reach around his cheek, to his mouth. It no longer stank of loneliness, but something stronger.
She realized most living things were feckless, wasting her time. That day, she had quit trying to impress them and locked her doors. The light shown through the lace curtains, illuminating the floating dust particles; it created a striking silhouette of Olivié playing with his new best friend.