The back door wasn’t locked, so Kara let herself in without a moment’s hesitation. It
was late, far past dark, but she was expected. The night and flickering porch light gave her ample cover should anyone happen to see her, and if they did they would and wouldn’t recognize her. She locked the door behind her, though. This was no one’s business but her own.
Kara walked through the kitchen, admiring the brushed stainless steel appliances and the shine on the toaster that allowed her to see every line on her face and every gray hair that she combed her hair carefully to hide. She passed through the dining room with its perfectly centered tablecloth and then through the living room to the stairs. Everything was neat and ordered, and she was slipping into it all like putting on a beloved pair of jeans.
She unbuttoned her own jeans as she thought this, stepping first out of her flats so she could pull them off and drop them in the hall. Her jacket came next as she walked, and she left a trail of her clothes behind her. The clip in her hair was cast off as well, sending a sheet of straight blonde hair down her back.
Empty spaces along the hallway where pictures had obviously once hung made her uneasy. It was completely at odds with the front part of the house and the two halves clashed magnificently, something Kara had been expecting from the moment she pulled up in the alleyway of the house.
They were out of town, the people in the missing photos. She knew this. It was the reason she had come tonight and brought her own camera, and a set of frames in the back seat of the rental car. She paused to look at one of the bare spaces as if trying to come up with their measurements just by looking, then unhooked her bra and dropped it onto the floor.
By the time she reached the bedroom she was completely naked and it seemed right to be standing in the most private of places, a blank slate to be filled with drawings and laughter by a woman who looked as if she hadn’t so much as cracked a smile in years.
The bathroom door was shut and her heart began to pound in her throat as she closed her fingers around the knob, wondering if it would be locked. If it was she had come for nothing, leaving her old skin behind her in the hallway and allowing the faintest ghost of hope to spark in her chest. It would be unlocked, though, just like the front door. The pictureless walls told her that for sure.
Kara turned the knob and pushed the door open, her entire body relaxing as she stepped through the door. The bathroom was steamy, and she didn’t know if it was due to the lack of a fan or the fact it hadn’t been turned on. She would find out, though. There would be plenty of time to find out.
She stopped at the side of the bathtub and looked down at the woman who was almost submerged in the water. Long blonde hair floated around her face in a halo that moved as she breathed. Her breaths were slow and deep and for a moment Kara thought she might be asleep. A moment later she was standing up, water streaming off a body that was pink from the heat.
“It’s my turn,” Kara said as she looked into the same bright blue eyes she had seen in the mirror that morning. The woman smiled and held her hand out for a towel, which Kara provided. “Where are they?”
“Away. It’ll be morning before they’re back.” She dried herself off and wrung out her hair. “They won’t notice a thing.”
“Sure they will,” Kara said. “But isn’t that the point?”