Are You Adaptable (part one)
Are You Adaptable
She thought, “Do Tolhursts really deserve accessories?”
The scarf was too much…it seemed crocheted from pillow stuffing, and bore the handicrafted preciosity of the chronically regifted gift. A Tolhurst gift. Not even a real one.
Last Thanksgiving, Heidi, Beloye’s near mother-in-law, had come out of her bedroom following noises of a tissue-y rummage, saying: “I don’t know where I got this. But I don’t want it.”
The scarf bulged under Beloye’s earlobes. Her left hoop popped off. She squatted to look along the edge of the armoire, lifted the bedskirt, saw nothing that glinted.
The sweater…she couldn’t blame them for that. She liked her cardigan, that had pockets for Kleenex and phone, cold hands. She wore it on weekends with jeans. With black pants, its mohair shed was notable. Worse, it had dropped shoulders. Worse, it fell to mid-hip. Beloye adjusted her posture. She still looked wide and slovenly. She jerked open the closet door, and Boz wedged his head between her ankles.
In her closet Boz had once spent a day imprisoned, clawing furrows in a good leather boot, fringing one or two garment hems, making use of a corner. Released, his cat’s life restored to even keel, he’d tripped under Beloye’s feet, chattering, weaving infinite figure eights.
Dan she’d been about to interrogate…loafing deaf in his chair all day. Without glancing from the TV, he’d said, “Yeah, cute.” He had that in common with Boz. You caught him in the act, or you wasted your breath haranguing.
She dragged Boz back now, and reached for her black dress.
A motor drilled, looming close, a rubber bumper thunking the doorframe. Boz flung himself behind the shoe rack, snagging in passing a claw on Beloye’s toe. The hanger she tugged grappled onto another.
Her black dress fell to the floor.
“You need a good vacuum,” was Heidi’s answer, shouted over the roar and whistle of Beloye’s, Dan’s complaints. “See how there’s nothing in the bin? That’s why nothing gets clean.”
Heidi vacuumed after meals to get crumbs; she vacuumed in her bedroom while Beloye and Dan watched TV.
“Why are you vacuuming?” Dan would yell.
re You Adaptable
(2015, 2018, Stephanie Foster)