Giving equal time to my other novel, this is an excerpt from Road Clothes.
This scene is in the middle of the book. Cassidy collects road clothes and because she does, she found a jacket in the roadway with an arm in it. She lives with her mother, Linda,who is a hoarder. This scene gives some background to the genesis of the problem. When Cassidy was sixteen, her father burned most of their possessions and then dropped dead a few weeks later.
She'd always loved him very much, her dad, but those last few weeks, when he'd burned their things and yelled, and then left them for good, she'd put him in a remote place in her mind. Her mom didn't take it very well, she heard her sister and friends say. She kept waiting to see someone take death in a good way to have something to compare it to, but by the time the headstone came, shiny black granite with gold flakes that glittered in the sun, she decided it was just a figure of speech. There was no such thing.
She found her mother wandering around the house, picking up items and setting them down. She wondered how long Linda would stay in this foggy-eyed trance, looking to Jenna and Cassidy for answers to simple and every day questions. It took awhile to notice that he house had gotten cluttery and Jenna was the first to be offended. Linda didn't work and the girls were in school all day. Jenna was graduating from High School in June and threatened her mother that she would move out if Linda didn't get rid of the accumulating things.
Linda would buy things every day, saying they reminded her of him. She would stop at any garage sale or second hand store, bringing things home like a lamp that she thought Dad would have liked. Jenna and Cassidy exchanged glances and picked up as much as they could. It wasn't trash exactly, but the amount of stuff that Linda piled everywhere precluded them cleaning very well and Cassidy thought the house took on a faint, musty smell.
It made Jenna crazy, this uncontrolled collecting and she screamed at her mother to stop. Linda blinked and did not cry.
When Jenna graduated, her party was at a friend's house, and people stopped coming over. Not even the priest was invited to visit. Cassidy took sides and landed on her mother's mess, unable to fathom losing both her partents, but thinking a while without her sister wouldn't hurt.
With her husband gone, and perhaps a tendency to want stuff anyway, Linda's control was gone too. She assigned value to things way beyond their influence. A two inch teddy bear that came with some Valentine's candy would be kept in the living room. A button that caught her eye in the store would go in a jar on the counter to be used "someday" for "something." She wouldn't throw anything away. It might be useful someday. She might be useful someday.