By mid-afternoon, the green vinyl of the kitchen floor was beginning to show through. The refrigerator was nearly empty. "How am I supposed to get dinner for Milton tonight?" barked Martha crossly, as containers of spoiled Chinese carry-out, stale pizza and frozen blocks of ancient casseroles were being heaped in the dumpster. Emily waved a gift card for "Farmhouse Kitchen" in Martha's sullen face. "Didn't I tell you? As a reward for all your good work today, you and your husband will be eating out tonight."
Martha grimaced. "We've been there. The food is greasy and they gave me a dirty fork once."
Emily sighed. Her blouse was spattered with green spots and something--a wad of school glue?--was stuck in her hair. She was alone with her intractable clients and she was already tired of them. Dr. Thimble had left this morning after only an hour, promising to check in at the end of the day. To Milton, almost every item was a "maybe." So far the truck held only the sagging frame of a shattered mirror, a ripped-open cushion where a mouse had birthed a litter of mouslings, a dozen mildew-spotted books and a baseball camp that said "Sparky." The front yard was cluttered with broken chairs and non-working lamps, but Milton would part with none of them, saying he'd fix them when he found time. Martha told the crew to return the chairs and lamps to the house because it looked like rain. As if Martha's bossiness wasn't irritating enough, Beatrice and Bunny arrived.
"Mom!" Beatrice exclaimed. "Why are you doing this now? You said you'd wait until the condo was ready. We need time to decide what we're taking."
The twins, who had just turned 40, wanted their old bedroom furniture for their new place, which was still under construction.
"It was your dad's idea, not mine," said Martha.
"Geez," said Bunny, "I hope you didn't throw out my dresser lamps. I'll die if anything happens to those pink organdy shades."
"The crew is not going upstairs until tomorrow," said their mother.