sepia silhouette of dead tree
Karen Bram Casady

She was beginning to feel very small, not literally of course. When she looked at herself she was always the same. Just slightly overweight, curvy as the media called it, a euphemism to soften the inevitable change, the crowding in of pounds. They needed a nice word for it and so did she. It made her feel slightly better about herself.

People often said that she looked good for her age. And it was true. She certainly didn’t look sixty. Very few wrinkles had taken up residence on her face. Her skin looked good. She took pains to care for it, using sunscreen every day, diligently. Perhaps it had paid off. Or perhaps it was the extra estrogen that was coursing through her veins, the result of that delicious little hormone replacement pill that she took every other day.

But still she felt smaller, not physically, just a sense of dwindling, of her world diminishing, growing hushed. They were all gone now, her children, her husband, her parents. There was so much less tending to do. They’d been launched, her children into their lives, her husband to a younger woman, and her mother and father into the ever after.

But it was after she’d lost her last client that she decided never to leave her house again. It was quick, an abrupt unexpected termination of a long relationship. She was shocked but surprisingly content. Now, she didn’t have to talk to anyone any more. She didn’t have to pick up the phone if her children called. All she had to say was thank you to the guy who delivered her groceries.

She’d sit and listen to the gurgling of the fish tank or the ticking of the grandfather clock. No more surprise crises to solve. No more issues to work through. No deadlines to meet. The havoc of the outside world vanished. The pain of living her life disappeared. She drifted through her days.

One morning she woke up and realized that her bed was smaller by at least a foot. She walked around her house, ducking under doorways and stooping through hallways until she reached her kitchen. The stove was thigh-high but still she was able to make her cup of tea. Everything being pint size, she took the largest mug she could find.

Be calm and carry on passed through her mind as she seated herself at her miniature kitchen table. She closed her eyes and sipped. She heard only the grandfather clock marking time and it seemed with each tick her world grew smaller. Her chair became teeny, her mug a thimble, as her house enveloped her like a coat of armor. And she was quiet and serene. Her house fit her like a tight pair of jeans and it occurred to her that she could now safely face the world.