Twenty-Four Hours – Sarah Daly


You have twenty-four hours to vacate the premises. The Sale of the Property located at 502 North Wendon Street will be held between the hours of 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM, June the 6th, 2009.

She had discarded the other papers; notice after notice had arrived, taped to the door, their block letters screaming at her while she fumbled for her key. She had ripped them, torn them, scrunched them and had finally shoved them deep into the trashcan, so the juices from the rotten meats and orange peels would soak and destroy them.

But she leaves this notice on the door so her husband will see it.

After, her husband begins shoving things in trash bags: pots, pans, stacks of unpaid bills, magazines, mystery novels, hand-sewn scrapbooks, souvenirs, letters, the kids’ old toys, Christmas ornaments, Halloween decorations, cookie cutters. He tosses the mountain of bags to the curb.

He fills his car with furniture and power tools and the television and his Playboy magazines. He drives to a friend’s house, dumps the stuff in the garage, and then comes back for more. There are so many trips back and forth that she loses count. She tries to pack the china and crystal, but her hands shake so badly that she drops them, and they form a layer of ice at her feet.

Later, her husband screams at her to Get up! Move! and he slaps her face and says You bitch.

But she had known they had no money. She would look for money by sliding her hands under couch cushions, picking up change from parking lots and swiping coins from wishing wells. The empty refrigerator would mock her. So she would slip cheese sticks and protein bars into her pockets at the supermarket. Once, she had walked out with an entire bag of groceries without paying. When there was no money left, she had thrown away the bills and they had come and taken away the garbage cans, the snow blower and her car. They had cut off the phone and the Internet and the cable. The worry would gnaw at her, but she had told no one. And no one had noticed. The kids had grown up and moved away, and her husband spent his evenings at the bar and then would come home and drill her like a dentist does to a rotten tooth.

Now, he drags her by her hair out the front door and onto the porch. He leaves her, like an abandoned rag doll. He takes the lawn mower and the rakes and the hedge clippers and drives away. The neighbors are picking through their trash and standing on the lawn, gawking.

She lays there on the porch, like a decimated scarecrow. She guards the house, though the Foreclosure Notice is above her head, a giant invitation for looters. At midnight, an old lady drags the rest of the trash bags away. At 2:00 AM, the neighbor with the spare key goes in the back door and roots through her lingerie. At 4:00 AM, a group of thugs come by and smash all the windows and graffiti obscene words on the white siding. They uproot her begonias and slice the heads off the peonies and steal the fertilizer to build bombs.

When the house and yard are stripped bare, everyone leaves, and she lays there, waiting for morning.

Sarah Daly is an American writer with work in the The Round and Litbreak Magazine.

Image via Pixabay

Comments are closed.

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: