Three

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Dear Diary,

I want to chain my sister to a bedpost and have actually considered doing it. Pretty sure Fairview doesn't even have a shrink that I can talk to about this. What kind of person am I?

Signed,

Ashley

Becky leaves that morning. I consider wrapping my arms around her legs and begging her to stay. I would love for her to endure this with me but she can't be kept from her perfect husband, her perfect life and her perfect children. I should have thought to have a kid or two or ten. Well played, Rebecca, well played.

My mother kisses my sister goodbye and tells her to drive safe before she takes up residence at the kitchen sink and spends the next fifteen minutes washing and rinsing dishes while she stares blankly out the window.

I consume at least three more cups of sludge-slash-coffee in record time before I stand and ask, “What can I do to help, Mom?” I nod to the dishes. “Sit down. I can do these.”

“I can do dishes, Ashley. I can't clean the horse stalls out anymore. Can you do that?”

I could. In theory. “I guess so.” I don’t try to feign enthusiasm for the grotesque task.

“Thank you. Make sure you mind Damon now, he's got spirit.”

“Damon?”

She nods, scrubbing a frying pan in a circular motion.

“Damon? Mom, you gave your horses human names?” I can’t decide if this is hilarious or the sad choices of a lonely woman.

“Would you rather I call him Fluffy or Patches?”

“Uh, yeah, I would.”

“Pets are people too.”

“They're not pets, Mom, they're livestock.”

“They're pets, Ashley.”

I make a mental note to report to Becky that our mom is going crazy in her old age before slipping my feet into flats. Several sets of rubber boots are lined up neatly against the walls of the mudroom. I recognize my dad's immediately. They're at least three sizes bigger than the largest pair.

He'd laugh at my choice of shoes, so I kick them off, run to my room and retrieve the rubber boots I'd bought for rainy days in Toronto. They're red with large white polka dots. Dad would have liked them. They are both practical and fashion forward, much like the person who wears them. 

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