It was my imagination; it was always my imagination. Samantha was staring at me while I made spaghetti. My parents would be over any second, while the sauce burned, and the cat looked at me with disapproval.

Knocking. “Come in.”

“Andy, your apartment is lovely,” my mother said.

“Something smells funny; it smells like smoke. You haven’t been smoking, have you?” My father asked.

“No, of course not; I just burned the sauce.”

“Well, your father has a remedy for that; he brought his homemade pizza. Pepperoni or sausage?” My mother asked.

“Sausage,” I said. He had made the same pizza for over 30 years. It was still good and I was still their son. Not much changes in families. The young never become old and the old become older until they realize it when it’s too late. They loved me and that was enough.

“So, do you have a girlfriend yet?” My mother asked.

“In a manner of speaking,” I said.

“What does that mean?” My father asked. “Are you sleeping with whores?”

“Alan, behave yourself. It’s just that we’re worried about you, son. You enjoy being alone too much.”

“Well, now I have a companion,” I said.

“Oh no! I knew it, he’s gay,” my father said.

“No. I got a…” and my cat ran across the kitchen floor and jumped onto the table.

“You have a cat?” My mother asked.

“Yeah. I found her a couple of days ago in the woods.”

“But Andy, you don’t like to take care of things. I bet she has fleas or worse, ticks. She might be carrying lime disease.”

“Would you relax, already. She can take care of herself. Now why won’t you admit that you made me breakfast?”

“Because I didn’t.”

“Well, then who could it be? My landlord? This just gets creepier the longer I think about it.”

“Are you sure you’re okay, son?” My father asked.

“I think so.” But the more frequently they asked me that question, the more frequently I thought there might be something wrong with me.

Samantha stared at us while we ate, like she was getting to know me, by watching my parents.

“Well son, we’ll just leave you to it, unless you’d like some help with the dishes?”

“No; I’ll make the time in the morning,” I said. When my parents left, it felt like when I was home alone on a summer day before middle school. Movies were my world; paradise in black and white, and I sat on my leather couch, watching an oldy, while my cat snuggled between my legs. When I went to sleep that evening, she got into bed with me, and I didn’t resist. And the next morning, I walked into my kitchen to do the dishes, and nearly had a heart attack. A naked woman with red hair and dark eyebrows and green eyes was staring at me, with soapy suds on her hands, and she was purring.

To be continued…

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