Mitchell Apartment (Formerly Mitchell-Park Apartment)
This reasonably-sized one-bedroom basement apartment, has been home to Kara Mitchell (1984- ), student of history, for the last three years. Previous occupants, as indicated by junk mail, include William Fitzpatrick, who receives Marlboro coupons; Jessica Stanley, who shops at Anthropolgie; and Ellen Shemanski, who may be eligible for lower interest rates on her credit cards. Unofficial previous occupants include Steven Park (1983- ), bank teller.
Built in 1983, the apartment building has four units on each of its three levels. The basement common areas are filled with evidence of Mrs. McCaskey’s (1948- ) hoarding problem, most recently a church pew and three broken lawn chairs. It is a sunless apartment with coarse tan carpeted floors. The bedroom and living room each boast two small windows near the ceiling that let in water after a heavy rain.
Chipped Green Teapot
This teapot is still used with some regularity, though often accompanied by an annoyance at the imperfection and a flickering desire to replace it with an un-chipped one. A replacement would be an improvement in performance, aesthetics, and a sign of emotional growth. Mrs. McCaskey has offered a brown teapot she bought from a yard sale decades ago, if she can locate it.
This mass-produced enamel teapot was a twenty-sixth birthday gift to Kara Mitchell from Steven Park, purchased from a kiosk at the mall after confirming with Kara Mitchell that she would appreciate and use such a gift. The chip in the spout only moderately affects the pour and was first noticed the morning after Steven had done dishes, though he maintains to this day that the chip was not a direct result of his carelessness in stacking dishes in the drying rack by the sink. Favorite teas to drink include kava and jasmine.
Black Babydoll-Style Cotton Dress
Worn by Kara Mitchell on first date (March 14, 2007) with Steven Park and only two times after that. The dress is flattering to long legs and bony shoulders. It has remained in the corner of Mitchell’s bedroom closet since the night when Park identified it as resembling something “a pregnant goth chick” might wear.
Considering its owner will almost certainly never wear it again, the dress should have been donated to the thrift store last month along with three pairs of jeans and a pair of gray running shoes with worn-down arches.
Wilting African Violet
The African violet was purchased during one of the last farmer’s market trips (July 15, 2011) with Steven Park. The small houseplant and accompanying yellow pot were supposed to be a simple way to add color to the apartment and was recommended as an ideal choice for a basement unit as this particular plant requires no direct sunlight and only weekly waterings.
The wilting of the African violet was first noticed by Kara Mitchell two months ago (August 8, 2012), just after Park left, though the wilting likely began before then. Since the problem was first detected, steps have been taken to revive the plant including repotting, fertilizing and a more diligent watering schedule assisted by automatic calendar alerts. Mrs. McCaskey has contributed a plastic watering can with a two-cup capacity.
Hole in the Wall
While not technically a hole, the portion of the kitchen wall where Steven Park repeatedly punched the wall after the death of his favorite uncle is a noticeable divot that will likely prevent Kara Mitchell from being refunded her full security deposit whenever she moves out.
The hole had been covered at various points by a wall clock in the shape of an owl, a photograph of green and red peppers, and a gingham apron hanging by a wall hook. Since Park’s departure, it has been left uncovered and unrepaired.
Postcard from Brookville Lake, IN
The postcard depicts a greenish-brown beach with approximately twenty people sunning themselves on towels or standing in the sparkling lake. A description on the card’s reverse explains this is the second largest beach in the great state of Indiana.
The handwritten message, from Steven Park, intimates what a fine time he had camping with his brother, followed by an assurance that his family members are doing fine and send their regards, despite everything. The postcard was cancelled in Indianapolis five weeks after Steven Park moved out, three weeks after his annual family camping trip, so there is a clear window of composition, though the precise date on which the message was written remains unknown.
Empty Crystal Vase
A gift from Mrs. McCaskey after Steven Park’s departure, this narrow-mouthed rectangular crystal vase has small chevron detailing and was acquired by Mrs. McCaskey, she believes, some time in the 1960’s. The vase was presented to Kara Mitchell one sunny morning and contained a single rose cut from one of the bushes on the side of the building.
According to Mrs. McCaskey, the apartment complex’s rose bushes have particularly hardy root systems and are favorable to hybrids, having descended from the Tyler rose, initially planted in the 19th century by Native Americans as a way to mark tribal trails. Mrs. McCaskey, a lapsed Catholic, has said that the crystal vase, like the hybrid rose, is an example of what happens when man improves upon God’s design.
Catherine Averill was born in Milwaukee and currently lives in Philadelphia. She earned a MA in English from Miami University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Temple University. Other recent work has been published by Animal Kingdom Publishing.