party mix

In her hand they rattled, Skittles or Smarties, in a similar variety of colours. Some tasteless when she gingerly licked them, others leaving a residue like sour lollies, forcing lips into a pucker, powdery and permeating.

When she held one of them up to the light, she could see through it; if she shook it right beside her ear, tiny things rattled inside. Like people jittering around a house, the walls protecting them from the outside world.

Janet did not know exactly where her home ended and the rest of the world began, and she didn’t care to find out.

She knew it was someplace between the rhododendrons and the footpath that was so cracked and forlorn, but every time she thought to test this boundary, it seemed to change – sometimes even as she emerged from the backdoor, creeping past the flower beds, someone from next door or across the street would smile at her, wave. The grins on their faces reminded her of sharks, or of that Johnny guy in The Shining, which her brother made her watch when she was younger. She had nightmares for weeks, axes and bodies and being frozen to death in the snow. It didn’t really snow where she lived, just sleeted a little on occasion; but she feared it all the same. When they went on a school trip to a hedge maze, just out from the city, she had a panic attack, hyperventilating into her sandwich bag, and she could smell ham and mustard for the rest of the trip, sitting at the picnic table with a classmate’s mother.

She could never eat ham and mustard sandwiches again.

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