She was past her prime when I found her on Craigslist. Although I wasn’t with TMIM when he picked her up in Chapel Hill, I could tell when I met her that she had spent time in one of the finer homes there: her on-line picture had done her justice. She was long and elegant, and her dress, while dated, had once been in the best of taste.

She wasn’t supposed to stay with us forever. Dr. T and Maggie needed someone in the family room until  I could move back in and make permanent arrangements. I imagine she felt cramped in our little paneled den, and probably better than her new surroundings. To be fair, I knew she wasn’t a perfect match- far from it. But we all make compromises from time to time. She needed a place to stay, and the price was right for me. Maggie, bless her uncritical heart, loved the lady immediately.

Months turned to years. The Kid moved back to Durham, and the lady adapted.  I shuddered to think of the indignities she suffered at the hands of The Kid and her friends while Dr. T visited me in California.

I came home to stay. Maggie died, and some months later, Waldo came to live with us. He has never treated the lady with the respect Maggie showed her- I often caught him nipping at her dress and gnawing her legs.

We found  someone more suitable for the family room, a brawny guy in buckskin. The lady went to the living room, where she almost fit in. Almost. Waldo continued to torment her when we weren’t watching. He scarred her legs and ripped her skirt. There was talk of the lady moving in with one of The Kid’s friends, but nothing came of it. The lady’s isolation seemed to make her more derelict by the day. Tonight, she will go to the curb. Wednesday, she will be picked up and taken “away.” I don’t like to think of it.

I catch her from the corner of my eye. “I could work here,” I think I hear her say. I tell her I’ve considered it, and we both know it’s just not right. “Well then, what about Craigslist again? It worked once.” I remind the lady she isn’t the same as she was four years ago. Does she really want to end up at Duke, to be immolated during basketball season? We both fall silent, embarrassed. Tonight will be awkward, but it will be all over by Wednesday. I hope it doesn’t rain before then. That would be too much for her to take.