“Mission Hills Confidential” by Grace Suh (from Kansas City Noir)
Allison sits in the breakfast room and watches the cardinal pair, male and female, dipping in and out of the holly bushes where they make their home. She avoids this room in the morning—too much sun. But it’s tolerable starting from early afternoon, which it now is, when she can drink her tea and look out the tall windows and watch the shadows sit neatly under the trees like coasters.
Her husband Britt is upstairs in the green guest room. Since winter, when he fell in with a new group of friends, he’s been tumbling into bed at all hours, reeking of vodka and smoke and sweat. A month ago she asked him to use a guest room on nights he goes out, and mostly he remembers. For some reason he eschews the gray one with the nautical theme and king-sized bed in favor of the mint-green one with the Colefax chinoiserie print that swathes the walls, draperies, armchair, and dainty canopy bed . . .