It had started off as any other Friday. Colin Mulligan had slammed off his alarm clock, gotten dressed for work, and kissed his wife Joni goodbye on his way out the door early that morning. He had left his shift early to pick up his young son Duncan from his after-school soccer practice, chatted with him about his day at school, and enjoyed a relaxing drive home. However, as he pulled into his garage, he noticed a green station wagon parked in place of Joni’s blue sedan; the first strange deviation from his normal routine.
“Who’s that, Dad?” asked Duncan, as he slammed the car doors behind him, his soccer ball tucked under one arm and his backpack slung over the other.
“I’m…. not sure,” his father replied, trying to remember if they were expecting any company that day. No one came to mind. Hell, he didn’t even know anyone who drove a station wagon. Still, he took his son by the hand and led him into the house, scanning the different rooms for a glimpse of the strange visitor until he stumbled upon an unfamiliar woman with feathered brown hair sitting at the kitchen table, sipping tea and flipping through the newspaper. At the sound of his footsteps, she glanced up from her paper, revealing her face to him for the first time and smiling. “Hi, honey!” she greeted. “How was your day?”
“What are you doing in my house?” asked Colin. “Did my wife invite you here?” Although the woman’s features seemed vaguely familiar, he couldn’t place her as one of his wife’s friends.
The woman laughed. “I am your wife,” she replied. Noticing Duncan, she inquired, “Who’s this? Is he the neighbor’s son? I know you’ve been carpooling with the kids’ friends recently.” She smiled down at him. “Hello, sweetheart. Would you like a snack?”
“…D-Dad?” Duncan fearfully backed up towards his father, who protectively wrapped his arms around him. Colin harshened up. “Look here,” he demanded. “I don’t know who you are, what you want, or how you got in. But you need to leave. Now.”
The woman cocked her head and gave a quizzical expression. “Why are you acting like this?” she asked. “It’s me, Macy. We’ve been married for eleven years. We have three children together. See?” She withdrew her cell phone from her purse and started scrolling through pictures. “Here’s Daisy, she’s the oldest. She’s nine. And then there’s Walden, he’s six, and Trevor makes three. He’s been napping upstairs for quite some time now, I’d better go check on him—” She rose from the table and was headed towards the staircase when Colin blocked her. “Let me see those photos again,” he ordered.
Macy handed him her phone, and he scrolled through her expansive collection of photos of three completely unrecognizable children—stirring a pot of chocolate cake batter and licking their fingertips, blowing out birthday candles, riding bicycles. Just those same three children, over and over again. Where did she get all these pictures? Did she take them from the internet? The last few shots he scrolled through appeared to be from a professional newborn photo shoot, presumably of the youngest one, Trevor—nestled in a decorative wicker basket full of pillows cuddled up with a teddy bear, sound asleep on a luxurious, fluffy periwinkle carpet, a sepia shot of him swaddled up and cradled in his mother’s arms, her face off camera. “We got that shoot done just a few months ago, right after he was born,” Macy explained. “We couldn’t decide on a theme, remember? I wanted dinosaurs, you wanted baseball…” Her voice trailed off when she noticed Colin’s expression. “You have no idea who I’m talking about, do you?”
“No, I don’t,” Colin snapped. “And if you don’t leave right now, I’m calling the police.” To be continued …