She rents a steamer to loosen the paper from the wall. It’s Pepto-Bismol pink, gummy and nauseating in its ability to bring forward memories of stomach upset. The layer below is from her mother’s youth: sky blue patterned with purple tulips, blue pansies, green leaves. She applies steam and peels it back, wonders how many layers she has to go. Next is something decades older: monochromatic green, a grassy hue bordering diluted watercolors, forming roses, leaves. Further down: red with yellow squares and blue flowers. She unsticks it from the wall and huffs as another layer of paper emerges.
In another house that is also the same house, a woman tries desperately to keep the paper up on her walls. It puffs out, then buckles back during breakfast. She puts her hands to it, pats it down, but then it’s sliding off in sheets, and it’s all she can do to keep it from knocking down the vase her mother gave her, the spices lining the back edge of the counter.
Rebecca Emanuelsen is a Michigan-based writer. Her stories have appeared in Shimmer, Parcel, Fractured West, and elsewhere. She occasionally blogs at rebeccaemanuelsen @ wordpress.com.