We Don't Want Any
The doorbell rang.
"I'll get it," I called from the kitchen. "Why do these damned people always have to come calling 'round dinnertime?"
Jack gave my ponytail a little pull, same as he's done for the past thirty-five years. "You know why, hon. They wanna get you when you're home."
"Who do you think this time? Mormons? Jehovah's Witnesses? Girl Scouts? UPS? I didn't order anything, did you?" I patted my hands dry on my apron and started for the door.
"Nope. My bet's on the kids selling magazines for those fictitious scholarship programs. Tell 'em to bother someone else. I'll set the table."
The bell rang again.
"Insistent little buggers, aren't they?" Before I reached the front hall, a third ding-dong echoed through the house.
"Okay, okay. I'm coming. Give an old girl a break, will ya?"
I heard Jack laugh from somewhere behind me and I turned the bolt on the door, opening it a quarter of the way.
The grey-haired woman on the porch wasn't a Mormon. Those Latter Day Saints folks travel in twos and they're always young men and they sport little name cards. She didn't look like a Jehovah's Witness, but I don't know whether the JH's have a particular sort of a look. Girl Scout? No way; not at her age. And she wasn't wearing the drab brown of a UPS delivery person. I ruled out the scholarship kid as fast as I ruled out the Girl Scout.
"Yes?" I asked.
"Good evening," she said. "Is Mr. John…" She paused to study a card. "Is Mr. John McBride at home?"
"Yes, but we're just about to sit down to dinner."
She smiled. "This won't take a minute."
"Are you selling something?"
"No, dear," she said with a chuckle. "Now, if I might speak with Mr. McBride."
"Jack?" I called.
"Would you mind if I stepped in? It's quite chilly out here this evening."
I blocked the door with an arm and turned toward the dining room. "Jack?"
"He must be in the back. Can I help you?"
Another sweet smile. The old woman glanced at her card again and shook her head. "No, I don't think so. I only need a minute of his time."
A low moan came from behind me. Jack. I kept my arm across the threshold and looked over my shoulder. Jack lay on the floor next to the dining table. "Jack? Jack!"
"Mary." Not much more than a whisper.
"Mrs. McBride? Could I please speak with your husband?"
Holy mother of God, this woman didn't know when to give up. I felt her pushing against the door.
"I'm sorry, I need to go," I said.
She had wedged herself into the narrow space and light from the hall reflected off an antique brooch on the left lapel of her suit. The old Soviet emblem, minus the hammer. Her eyes met mine for an instant and then swept the room, landing on Jack.
"Oh no you don't." With one hard shove I sent the woman tottering backwards.
"If I could just—" she started.
"Go away." I slammed the door in her face, punched three numbers into the phone, and dashed to where Jack lay in the dining room.
"Mary…who was that at the door?"
"Shh, darling," I said, counting out the thirty compressions, punctuating them with two breaths. "She's gone. I told her we don't want any."
Christina is a linguist and novelist from Norfolk, Virginia and her work is due to be published by The Molotov Cocktail, Pidgeonholes, and Bethlehem Writers Roundtable later this year. Her first novel is currently on submission.