Day 2 of 30 (Wow! November 30th seems like a long way off …)

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Emilie and the Strange Man

Emilie awoke in the middle of the night to the smell of a strange man in her house. She put on her robe and slippers, grabbed her cane, and followed the pleasant odor out of her bedroom, down the hall, past her living room and into her kitchen.

Although it was still dark outside and in, Emilie was able to navigate without banging knees and elbows on any furniture or half-closed door. There were benefits to living in the same space most of your life.

Emilie stopped where the smell of aftershave seemed the strongest. She spoke to the smell. “Hello? Who are you?” There was no answer. With the tip of her cane, she flicked on a light switch on the first try.

She found herself standing at her kitchen table. In front of her sat a strange man. Emilie banged her cane against his shin. “Answer me.” The strange man did not speak or move. His eyes never blinked. She poked his toes several times with the cane. Still he did not move or speak.

On the table in front of him was a cup of tea, contents steaming. “I see you found my good china. At least you used a saucer. You’d be surprised how much the little things matter,” she said.

“I see you’re a cat person.” Emilie saw a grey ball of fur unroll and stretch in the stranger’s lap. The kitten shaded her eyes from the light with a tiny paw and reformed into a tighter ball.

“If Mittie accepts you, who am I do judge otherwise?” Emilie eased herself into the chair opposite her guest. She slid the cup and saucer to her side of the table, took a sip of tea and placed the cup back on the saucer.

“I save my good dishes for special occasions, but I guess this is one.” Emilie stared at the man’s eyes and detected no life inside them. “I bet they were pretty once,” she said. She finished the tea, then flicked off the light switch with the tip of her cane.

Emilie sat at her kitchen table in the dark without speaking, hearing only the purring sounds of a dreaming content Mittie. “You smell so good,” she said. She did not speak again until the morning sun glowed orange-gold on the side of the man’s expressionless face.

“Remember last night, when I asked who you were,” Emilie said. “I wish you could have answered.”

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