“When are you going to let me get rid of that rug? It smells dreadful!” Liz spoke loudly as she strutted in and out of the living room. Margaret stared blankly at the evening news. If she wasn't sleeping, she was watching the news. Liz came back to clear the dozen off-color tea mugs from the coffee table. “It reminds me of my husband,” Margaret murmured with a hoarse passivity that only comes from someone in their mid 90’s at least. The young maid clattered the dishes loudly into the sink and filled them with water.
“Anything more you need before I head out?” she said, already halfway out the foyer.
The girl stopped mid stride. She made sure to store the look of exasperation back behind her eyes before turning around.
“Would you be so kind and bring me that gift from my grandson? It’s in the handbag.”
The maid walked to the leather bag in polite annoyance.
“Of course,” Liz fumbled with the clasps for a moment and reached inside.
“No no, the other pocket.”
She shot a smile towards the lady and reached for the back pocket.
Something about the orange light that appears before dusk always made Liz anxious. A cosmic reminder that time was fleeting. She always thought it strange that old people move and act so painfully slow given how little time they have left to do things. Liz made sure never to waste a moment if she could help it. She was already working well overtime. She had a dinner date that night and needed to finish her science essay before then. Her mother would give her hell if they were out after 10:00. So as Liz plunged her right hand into the back pocket of the overly sized, mildew smelling handbag and felt a cool metal disk at the bottom; she yanked at it rather forcefully.
The steel of the bear trap snapped concussingly against the slender bone of her wrist. Liz fell on her back pulling the bag a few inches where it rattled at the end of a short chain wrapped around the leg of a table. Her open mouth made an odd sounding shuddering inhale as her brain caught up to the pain. She bit down on her lip like a raw steak. Her doll like eyes bulged and clouded with water. Finally she turned to look at Margaret. The old lady was staring back at her. In a way that made it impossible to read the expression forming behind the layered rolls of skin, if there was one at all.
“Ow!” she tried to sound like it was less painful then it was. “Hah, I didn’t expect that…” her attempt to normalize the situation faded with the color in her face as she turned back to her hand. It was twisted over 90 degrees from the angle of her forearm. Blood pulsed from the wrist in time with the beating of her heart. A dark pool ran around her legs and the base of the walls, outlining the intricate swirling patterns of the ancient mahogany floorboards like ink.
Feeling drained away. Not just in her hand; her knees on the floor, the air on her skin, her skull on her mind. The numbness crept in from all sides, then coursed through her exponentially like water in a sinking ship. For a moment she tried to fight. No! Don’t fall asleep now. Run. you have to… run...away from….from…. Just as her head rested in the warm pool of blood her swimming vision fell on an empty couch and something moving towards the kitchen. Then her eyes closed, and she sank to the ocean floor.
Margaret made her way to the pantry. The feet of her walker scraped along floor which, when combined with the shuffling slippers made the sound of her motion closely resemble a tennis ball in a washing machine. She leisurely went to the freezer, retrieved a stack of ice packs and a bundle of string. As the twilight out the window dissipated, the old woman got to work. Slowly, intentionally, rehearsed-- she stopped the girls bleeding as best she could without removing the trap. Liz’s phone, wallet, key chain, piercings, necklace, and glasses, went into a ziplock bag which was neatly folded and placed in the dresser. The curtains were shut and the door locked. Then, after a break with bread and butter, Margaret began lifting up the smelly old rug.