“Dammit, I picked the wrong keys again.” LaJean fumbled with the keychain outside the house, filled with all sorts of extraneous keys for properties she didn’t even solicit anymore. The paper with the house’s address, which some young frivolous woman by the name of Lainey had given to LaJean that morning, slipped out of her pocket as she found the key with the purple sharpie. Something thunked inside once she turned the key, but she took no heed of it as she stepped inside.
“My, this is a small house…” LaJean hung her coat up on the only vacant peg by the door and traversed up the seven carpeted steps upstairs. She dropped her purse, spacious enough to house a hundred granola bars, on the checkered side table next to the couch before yelling, “Miranda? Are you here?”
“I’m here.” His small voice echoed from the first bedroom on LaJean’s right, and she opened the door to be met with a burnt-out fluorescent lightbulb on the floor. Miranda was sprawled out in his bed, and by the looks of the crumpled up sheets, he hadn’t moved from that position all day.
“Are you feeling okay?” As soon as the words left LaJean’s mouth, she wished that she could take them back and stuff them into the darkest corners of her purse. Of course things weren’t all right… She sat her rear end down next to the mattress, and Miranda propped his back up against the wall. “Is there anything I can do for you?”
Miranda slumped as he rubbed his eyes. LaJean silently observed that they were red and puffy, most likely from a restless night. His voice was raspy as he answered, “I’d really just like to be left alone right now.”
“You need to eat something, Miranda. You can’t let your health waste away because a-” LaJean swallowed, biting back any remaining scathing words against Anders that had survived. “A death of a loved one.”
Miranda tipped his head, pleading into LaJean’s eyes for her words to just be an error of the tongue. “What did you say?”
LaJean rung her hands, averting her gaze to the floor. “I’m sorry, Miranda. Anders died in the operating room. They weren’t able to stem the blood loss and- oh, honey…”
LaJean opened her arms wide, and Miranda collapsed into her as she patted his back. Miranda became a sobbing mess on LaJean’s shoulder, clutching close the woman who had despised her husband so much.
Miranda’s voice warbled as he sobbed, “He’s dead… He’d really dead… What am I supposed to do now?”
“You could stay at my place for a few days while you sort through everything.” LaJean adjusted her floppy hat with one hand, returning it to Miranda’s back as soon as she was done. “Jeaneé would certainly love to see you. She keeps ranting about being God’s servant or something crazy to that extent.”
“Nobody’s forcing you to do anything, Miranda. We’re as shocked as you are. You should work through things at your own pace.”
“Alright…” Miranda pulled away from LaJean, who stood up and exited the room. Miranda pushed the sheets off of him and rolled out of bed, shivering as his toes connected with the floor. His legs wobbled as he pulled himself up to a standing position, and he crossed the room, stopping in the doorway.
“Come on, Miranda.” LaJean shrugged her purse onto her shoulder and traveled down the steps. “Aren’t you coming with me?”
“Just a minute.” Miranda brushed his hand against the familiar grains of the wooden doorway, stopping beside where Anders had once kissed him goodbye. His lips brushed against the fibers, and his eyes closed as he remained there for a full minute before giving into LaJean’s urges and vacating the house with a sigh.