Lorraine fluffed the embroidered velvet cushions on the sofa in her apartment at 44 Cherry Street and looked out the front window at Europa and Mountain Nest. “The more things change, the more they remain the same,” she thought. Europa hadn’t changed at all, and Mountain Nest had changed owners, but still carried the same sort of stuff and still employed Helen and Colleen. Much had changed in Lorraine’s life, earth-shattering loss, but still she remained in her apartment on the second floor of the same address. And she was still single, damn it!

The biggest change in Lorraine’s life had been the loss of her precious Suki. The little dog had been her surrogate child and Lorraine never imagined losing her. Lorraine had been on another one of her tortuous diets and had starved herself to the point that she was shaky and headachy. It was a Saturday night, there was nothing good on tv, as most Americans were out on dates on Saturday night. Her dinner had consisted in yet another bowl of a foul-smelling cabbage soup that was the staple of this particular regime, and she decided to weigh herself, hoping to be rewarded with massive weight loss. She thought that seeing the number in black and white would cheer her up and make the suffering mean something.

Instead, when she climbed on the scale (naked,of course…no added weight of clothing!)  she couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the number on her easy-read scale. She had gained four pounds! She was irate. How could this have happened. That cabbage soup was supposed to melt the weight off, but somehow it hadn’t worked at all.

Lorraine struggled into her slightly mildewed sweatsuit, grabbed Suki and her leash, and raced out the door. She was Kilwin’s bound, no mistake. If she hurried, she would get there before they closed. A few minutes later she returned to her apartment with the white Kilwin’s bag in her grip. Without even removing Suki’s leash, Lorraine opened the bag and dropping onto the sofa, dug into a large hot fudge sundae with extra fudge, whipped cream, and honey walnuts. Oh, it was delicious!

The phone rang, and grudgingly Lorraine got up to answer it. She placed the sundae on the pretty end table beside the sofa and was annoyed to hear her sister’s voice on the phone. Evelyn was still married to her first husband, they owned homes in three states, were rabid Trump supporters, religious fanatics, and thought Lorraine needed their advice about everything.

“What you doing home on a Saturday night?” Evelyn asked rhetorically.

“I just got home from a dinner date with a very wealthy business man,” Lorraine improvised. “He had to get home early, though, as he is flying out to Hong Kong in the morning. I actually just walked in the door.” That part, at least, was true.

“International business, huh? Sounds like he has potential. Ray and I worry about you, dear. You aren’t getting any younger and it’s time you latched onto someone with money so you will be able to afford a nice nursing home in a few years.”

“I’m fine,” Lorraine said through a tight smile. “Don’t worry about me, please.”

“Well, I’m calling to tell you that we found you a great mate if things don’t work out with that drug dealer. “Businessman” Probably taking drugs to China. You better  watch out, or he’ll have you in some kind of opium den before you know it. You just don’t think, Lorraine!”

Wanting to avoid defending her non-existent date, Lorraine tried to side-track her sister, knowing Evelyn was dying to tell her about this man she wanted Lorraine to meet.

“So who is this guy?’ she asked.

Evelyn was only too happy to describe this “catch” she and Ray had met. “First of all, he is a doctor, and you know how much money they make! You should know, as you were married to one for a little while before you stupidly let him out of your clutches. But this guy is richer still. He owns a chain of clinics to treat people with serious chronic conditions. He is a collector of art and antiques and lives on a huge ranch out here outside Dallas. He is single, but not for long, I suspect. You need to get out here asap before some other woman gets her hands on him.”

“I’d love to come out to visit,” Lorraine lied. The thought of spending even an hour with these two right-wing idiots was more than she could bear. “You know I don’t have the money for the flight to Texas, though.”

“Never mind that!” Evelyn interrupted. “We will pay for your flight with the frequent flier miles we have earned on our recent trips. Dr. Hill, your future husband, is hosting a gala “Let’s help Him build the wall” event at his ranch at the end of this month. You must be there to meet him. We will send you a red baseball cap to wear along with the tickets. Just make sure you don’t look too fat, though. It’s time you were married.”

Lorraine hung up after the usual formalities, disgusted with her sister, but more with herself. Build a wall indeed! Did He think it would keep the floodwater out? She was fat and looked horrible. And how dare her sister insult her dinner date! And the hot fudge sundae was proof of her weakness. She would throw that grotesque thing in the trash immediately. Maybe one last bite, though.

But when Lorraine returned to the living room, the empty cardboard cup for the sundae was lying on the floor, every trace of the confection wiped clean, and Suki was no where to be seen. “Oh my God!” Lorraine cried. “She ate that chocolate. Chocolate is deadly for dogs!” and sure enough there was the lifeless body of Suki on the bathroom floor, wrapped in her cute red leash. But was that a smile on her face or just a smear of hot fudge on her lips?

Lorraine collapsed on the floor in a faint. Her baby was gone!