TITLE: The Collector
GENRE: YA - Southern Gothic
When I first arrived at Granny's, Crankston's Landing was in the middle of the driest summer on record. The white sedan that the social worker drove was covered in a thick red film from the Oklahoma dirt that seemed to cover everything that year. A white cat sat on the rail of the porch, and when it stretched out I could see the red-stained fur matted on its underbelly. No matter how much that cat licked and cleaned, the stain never came off.
No one answered the door when I knocked. I looked back at the social worker, sittin' in her air-conditioned car, and she motioned for me to try around back. I clutched the plastic grocery bag that held my spare socks and underwear and followed the path to a gate that was half rotten but might’ve been painted white once—now it shared the same reddish tint as the cat. The hinges squeaked when I shoved the gate open enough to slip through it.
I wish I could say that on the other side of the fence there was a lush green paradise, but there wasn't. Everything in that backyard was dead—the yellowed grass, the withered honeysuckle, the pile of rotting kitchen scraps, and the remains of a tiny kitten left near the trash cans. The smell made me throw up the apple cinnamon waffles that I ate at the Waffle Barn just off the interstate.