The chime of the door bell seems to echo through all the rooms of the house. It is followed shortly by the shuffling of feet and shadows behind the glass panes.
The woman that opens the door appears to be in her late 60s, hair greying and maps of a life fully-lived etched on her face. Her eyes squint behind large round glasses as she struggles to recognise the visitor, to try and place this some-what familiar face.
“Mrs Taylor, hi – it’s Jessica. From the shops?”
The girl is aware that the woman was not expecting her, but she holds up a couple of forgotten plastic bags, filled with fruit, vegetables and paper towels and a change in the woman’s appearance is almost immediate.
“Jessica! Oh did I leave these behind?” the woman’s eyes twinkle as she realises she hadn’t even noticed the missing items and starts to laugh in embarrassment while trying to thank the girl.
“Come in, come in-“ Mrs Taylor says as Jessica asks over the top “Would you like me to bring them into the kitchen?”
Mrs Taylor points a couple of metres away where the lounge blends into the dining room, and where Jessica can carry the bags. As she steps forward into the house she is hit with the smell of flatulence and medicine hanging in the room, stinging the eyes and nostrils.
Jessica silently holds her breath and swallows back any sign of revolt from her stomach. She places the bags on the dining room table and drags in a breath solely from her mouth.
Mrs Taylor is oblivious to the stale smell and instead continues to thank Jessica and offers her a cup of tea.
“No thanks, Mrs Taylor,” Jessica says with a wide smile, turning back to face the woman. “I just wanted to make sure you got these.”
The smells are easing, or else Jessica is getting used to them. Perhaps the front door, still open, is leaking the rest of the fumes outside, and hopefully letting in some fresh air to replace it.
Mrs Taylor has relaxed so much since Jessica identified her purpose to ring the bell, she acts more like a woman in her forties than someone pushing 70, and it’s only now that Jessica looks around the lounge and notices how modern it is – large TV, comfy leather armchairs and digital photos lining the shelves.
Jessica realises that while she hadn’t fully pictured what Mrs Taylor’s home might look like, it certainly wasn’t this. Although she now turns her attention across the carpet and window sills looking for a cat, because while she can’t remember Mrs Taylor ever buying cat food, she has always imagined her as having a few to chat to during the evening.
No sign of any cats. They could be outside, she supposes.
“Are you sure you can’t stay a little?” Mrs Taylor asks, possibly for the second time.
Jessica confirms that she has to be going, but smiles and nods when agreeing that she’ll see her at the shops soon enough.
As the door closes on their short exchange Jessica heads back to her own home, where two cats and pasta for one await her arrival.

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