Leah Browning

Part 2: Allegiance

My mother accuses her new housekeeper of stealing.

“One of the forks is missing,” she says. “I wanted to polish the good silver, and when I got it out, there were only eleven forks.”

She is scowling, looking pointedly at the housekeeper’s pale pink smock with its pattern of tiny rosebuds and its roomy pockets.

“Where is my sewing machine?” she asks suddenly. Suspiciously. Her eyes narrow.

Her ancient sewing machine is in its usual spot, on a tiny wooden table in the guest bedroom. But when I point it out, she seems unmollified. If anything, she seems more suspicious than ever, but now her focus has shifted to me.

For the rest of the visit, every time I look up, I catch her studying me. I’m in the same boat as the housekeeper, now; I can tell. When she catches my eye, I try to smile but it comes out wrong and I can tell she knows it. I have to look away because now I’m questioning myself, wondering what I have done, how many things I am guilty of.

> part 3

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