It was 4th of July before anything else happened. Angie was with her grandparents and Linda and Shawn decided to throw a little party with a few friends. They spent majority of the evening in the backyard. They drank, they laughed, they enjoyed the fireworks from the park down the road. All in all, it was a good night. They were almost able to forget about the weird things that had been happening.
Until they went back in the house at the end of the night.
“Woah, who tracked all this mud in the house?” Jennifer asked. She stepped to the side and revealed the muddy footprints across the wood floor.
“What? There hasn’t been rain all month, where’d the mud even come from?” Shawn asked.
Linda followed the prints down the hall. They wrapped in a circle around the kitchen island and went out the other side door. The continued down the hall and ended abruptly as though whoever had made the prints had walked right through the wall. She felt cold all over.
Back in the kitchen, their friends had already forgotten the prints and were on to talking about other things. But Shawn made eye contact with Linda when she reentered the room and could see her fear. He decided not press the subject. He squeezed her hand and whispered, “Let’s not worry about it tonight.”
So, they didn’t. Alcohol really helps when you’re attempting to suppress stressful thoughts.
The next afternoon, Linda scrubbed the floor until it shined. She tried not to think about what she was cleaning. They’d made a mess during the party, that was all. She didn’t bring it up again, and neither did Shawn.
It was mid-August before anything else disturbed their peace. Linda had allowed herself to forget and Shawn went about his daily business as though nothing had ever interrupted him.
Angie was in the back yard on the porch swing. Linda sat nearby with a magazine. Shawn was attempting to fix the lawn mower. It was a typical Saturday afternoon. Linda put down her magazine and stretched.
“I’m going to make some lemonade, you two want some?” She asked.
“Yes, please,” Shawn said without looking up from his work.
“Yum!” Angie said with a smile.
Linda crossed the threshold and froze. Spread out across the kitchen floor were all of the knives from the block. They were laid out from smallest to largest and pointing toward the door where she stood. If that wasn’t startling enough, a small grey cat was fiddling with the handle of the third knife. A small grey cat that Linda had never seen before.
“Shawn!” She called over her shoulder and she tried to keep the panic out of her voice. She didn’t want to alarm Angie.
“What is it?” He jumped up from the lawn mower and jogged across the lawn. He saw the fear in her eyes and how pale her face was and grew more concerned the closer he got.
“Look…” Was all she managed to say.
Shawn moved around her to see in the house. The cat was still playing with a knife on the floor.
“What… How did… Where did the cat… What the hell is going on here?”
“Mommy?” Angie trotted across the sidewalk and peered through their legs. “Ooh! A kitty! Can we keep it?”
“Oh, honey…” Linda began but Angie had already rushed into the house to pet the cat.
Shawn darted in behind her to snatch up the knives on the floor before she could hurt herself. “Angie, sweetie…”
“It’s so cute!”
Linda and Shawn exchanged a look over their daughter’s head.
“Let’s just not – “
“Worry about it. Yeah.” Linda took the knives from Shawn and left the room.