This story was originally published on November 4, 2011. The author nominated it for Snake-Oil Cure’s First Short Story Contest.
ne day Miss Cora came home to find everyone else had gone. At first she thought it was just her fiance. She knew he wasn’t there as soon as she opened the door. Not because of the stuff (a shirt, a half-eaten bag of chips) lying around – though this would prove to be additional evidence. No, Miss Cora had a most particular sense of smell and she immediately noticed the absence of Frank’s typical blend of aftershave, tobacco, detergent and a hard day’s sweat.
She wasn’t surprised. They had been engaged for over two years and in no hurry to move on. While postponing the not-so-inevitable, their relationship deteriorated to the kind of daily trouble you don’t bother with much. Being of a practical and serene nature, Miss Cora appreciated Frank had done them both a favor by leaving. What did put her off though was the mess. Ever since moving in with her, Frank had been awfully neat. They had agreed that in her house, her rules applied and he abided by them. Until now. The dishes were still on the counter. The bin with dirty clothes had been emptied out on the bathroom floor, as if he needed to find that special shirt, and quick.
Miss Cora decided to walk over to her neighbor, Mrs. Gideon. Officially to see if Frank had left a forwarding address, but mostly to avoid the bouts of self-pity she often endured when a relationship ended, no matter how much relief she felt at the man in question having disappeared from her life.
Apart from Oddball, Mrs. Gideon’s goofy dog, she found the porch empty. Luckily, they had exchanged keys, just in case, so she let herself in through the kitchen door. From the looks of it, Mrs. Gideon had been preparing for a barbeque. The kitchen was filled with every imaginable meat (steaks, sausages, hamburgers, chicken legs soaked in a garlicky marinade). But from Mrs. Gideon, neither sight nor sound.