"C'mon kids! Let's go! I told Grandma we would be there early to help cook," Mary yelled upstairs to her two kids getting ready to go to their grandmother's house for Thanksgiving.
"Ma!" her 13-year old daughter Gwen complained, trotting down the soft, carpeted steps. "I can't find my earrings."
"They're on the kitchen table where you left them last night, dear," Mary replied patiently.
"Oh yeah, thanks Ma," the young redhead said, trotting by with a brief grin, showing her shiny silver braces. "By the way, the Brat wouldn't let me help him get dressed, so you might wanna check on him," she yelled over her shoulder.
"I told you not to call him that, Gwen," she called to her daughter's back. Mary strode up the stairs to check on her rambunctious toddler. She found Joey sitting on the floor in his red Superman underwear with a yellow sock only half on his foot, a tie draped around his shoulders and a dark blue T-shirt on backwards. "Oh honey, let me help you!"
"But Mommy, I'm almost done! I jus' gotta put my pants on," the brown-haired little 4-year old said with a huge smile.
After spending ten minutes wrestling the little boy into some presentable clothes, and another five helping her daughter put on the makeup she insisted on wearing, Mary finally found herself in her red jeep with her two bickering kids and the three pies she had baked for the Thanksgiving dinner.
"Can I help make the smashed 'tatoes Mommy?" Joey babbled.
"Yes dear, you can help Mommy make the mashed potatoes," Mary replied, pulling up to her mother's old Victorian style house.
The three of them made their way up the concrete path to the old house with Mary holding Joey's hand and Gwen, with the pies, behind. Mary tried to open the old wooden door, but strangely, it was locked. That's strange, she thought to herself with a furrowed brow, Mom usually leaves the door unlocked when she knows that people are coming over. She fumbled around in her jacket pocket for her keychain. "Here we go," she murmured to herself as she unlocked and opened the squeaky old front door.
"Mom?" Mary called into the ancient house that she had grown up in, but her only answer was a deafening silence. "Where is she? Gwen, I'll take the pies, why don't you and Joey go say 'hi' to Grandma?"
A few minutes later Joey came plodding down the stairs whispering, "Shhhh, Gramma's sleepin', Mommy."
"Sleeping? But it's almost one o'clock," she responded, concerned. Her mother had always been an early riser, often being up and cleaning the house around eight o'clock. She quietly made her way up the stairs to her mother's bedroom to find that she was, indeed in bed with the window open. After closing the open window she went over to her sleeping mother. "Mom? Wake up," she said, rubbing the old woman's arm to wake her up. "Are you feeling OK? Did you forget that everyone is coming over for Thanksgiving today?"
The white haired old woman made no reply, her body remaining completely motionless. Mary touched her mother's wrinkled old hand which stuck out from the faded floral covers. It was quite cold, and it looked strangely pale. Mary's eyes opened wide as she began to shake her mother's unmoving form harder and harder. "Mom? Mom! Oh my God, Mom no!"
Her normally cool demeanor was shattered as she collapsed over her mother's cold body. "No… no... no NO!" she repeated, her voice soaring higher with each sob.
Gwen heard her mothers anguished scream and came hurtling up the stairs. "What? What's wrong?" she asked, confused until she saw her grandmother's immobile corpse. At the sight of the wrinkled old carcass, she simply collapsed, sobbing.
"Gwen, stay here with your brother, I have to call the 911," Mary said, trying to compose herself. A half of an hour later there was an ambulance at the house, and the body was taken away.
"Looks like she had a heart attack," one of the medics explained. "Died in her sleep, never felt a thing."
They took the sheets along with the body, saying that it was easier to move it that way in case the body had already begun to decompose, even though it looked as though it only happened within the last few days.
Mary was too wracked with grief to bother calling her relatives to tell them about the event. She was sitting at the kitchen table trying to comfort her daughter when little Joey, who was still too young to understand what had happened, wandered the room.
"Mommy, why was this next to Gramma's bed?" the oblivious little boy asked, holding a knife, spattered with brown, in his chubby little hand.