Snapdragons

Prompt: Unexpected Guests
You walk into your home to find a couple you don’t know sitting in your living room, eating a slice of cake. Tell us what happens next.

sad dog

After coming home from a visit to the doctor, I approached my front door, key in hand, and noticed that my neighbour’s dog was peeing on my rhododendrons. He stopped, lowered his leg, and gazed at me mournfully. He was always escaping from my neighbour’s yard, and always came to pee on my plants when he did.

I entered the house. It felt cold, and I heard voices. Who else had the key to the house? Only my son, who now lived in Hamburg. I had talked to him on Skype early this morning. I heard a woman’s laugh, and it gave me the courage to move from the hall to the living room, where I encountered a man and a woman.

They were sitting close together on the couch, giggling and nudging each other, as they ate hazelnut cake. They were rather sloppy eaters, and crumbs made a path down the front of their clothes, and littered the carpet. They looked up at me and smiled silently, their mouths full.

“What is going on?” I asked. I didn’t raise my voice, despite the fact that I felt I needed an answer to the question immediately.

“We heard about the bake sale,” the man said at last.

“We heard about your cake,” said the woman simultaneously.

“The bake sale is on Tuesday. In the church basement,” I said.

“It’s delicious,” said the man. “By the way, I’m Trevor, and this is my wife, Nancy.”

I took a few steps and glanced into the kitchen, where I noticed two things: the deadbolt on the door to the garden, which was the only other entrance to the house, was still turned and locked; and the counter beside the stove was clear.

I returned to my guests and said, “How did you get in?”

“Oh,” said Trevor, and a shadow of a frown crossed his face. “The laundry room window. The thing is, when we broke the handle, we must have left a sharp edge.” He set the napkin which held the remains of the hazelnut cake on the coffee table. He stretched his left leg out and pointed to a snag in his pants. “I seem to have damaged my trousers.” He and his wife bent over the small tear with great concern. Nancy rubbed his upper arm consolingly.

“I baked four hazelnut cakes,” I said. “Don’t tell me you ate all of them.”

Nancy laughed again. “Oh heavens no. You just missed Ruth and Paul. They were most impressed.”

Trevor took his wallet out of his pants’ pocket and took out a silver toothpick, with which he delicately sought the remains of the hazelnuts stuck in his teeth.

“So you each ate a whole cake?”

“My goodness, of course we did not!” Trevor said, putting the toothpick in his pocket. “That would be piggish. The twins ate most of it.”

“The twins.”

“Yes, they would still be here, they so wanted to meet you, but Eric had to catch a plane. And you know the twins, where one goes the other follows. They are inseparable.”

“Literally,” said Nancy.

I felt a headache coming on. I went to the cupboard and took out a book. I put it in my bag. Then I went to the front door, opened it, and went outside. I closed the door behind me.

My car was parked at the curb. I went to it and started the engine. As I did so, the dog, who had been rooting around among the snapdragons, galloped like a horse to the car. I leaned over and opened the passenger door, and he jumped in.

We drove away.

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