Shiny dark red cherries in clumps in a bowl on the table always attracted her attention when she passed through the kitchen. The kids were playing in the yard. She didn’t know what it was about those cherries that always drew her in. Perhaps it’s because they never spoiled.
In the distance, thunder dragged across the sky and she briefly thought they hadn’t finished moving the bed upstairs. But no, no, the movers had left hours ago. Of course they’d left hours ago. It’s already getting dark. She looked outside to see the slowly fading light of day and a distant thunderstorm quietly but certainly making its path toward the house.
She wanted to shout to bring the kids in, but she didn’t have it in her voice. She’d barely spoken a word all day, just a few mumbled words here and there thanking the workers as she handed them their tips. It was all she could muster. She walked through the dining room and into the living room but she couldn’t remember why. Her body felt drawn by the clinking windchimes the previous homeowner left on the front porch, but she didn’t dare take a step outside.
The furniture was covered in plastic and packaging paper and it reminded her of home, shortly after her parents disappeared. No, those were sheets. They covered everything in bedsheets to collect the dust. They had purchased beautiful, high-count white sheets just for that purpose, and then they never came home. A rumble in the distance brought her back to life.
“MOM!” One of the kids came slamming in through the back door, and she took quick action. On soft feet, she wanted to run up the stairs, close the door, shut everyone out, turn everything away. Instead, she turned around and answered her child’s frantic call. “What is it, honey?” “Mark took my frisbee.” Mark was the neighbor two houses down. It’s a wonder that she was able to produce a human who was able to socialize so quickly.
“Where is Mark now?” she asked, not wanting to deal with this, not ever wanting to deal with this shit again. But her child had bolted out the door again, quick as lightning. Mark must have resurfaced, shown his face again, dared to return. She shrugged and turned back toward the kitchen and thought about their new castle. This is where all their adventures were to begin.
At night, while the child and the mother slept, the house stretched its creaky bones and yawned. Without a noise, it addressed the old tree in the backyard, asking how its day was. “Oh, well, you know. You’ve got a kid now, so I’ll be getting a lot of attention and abuse again.” The tree said it with anger and a hint of sarcasm, but the house knew there was excitement in those old roots.
Fireflies approached the two great beings and bowed to their status. In their sleepy musical way, they inquired about the child. “I haven’t met him yet,” said the house, but the tree told them all the tales they wanted to hear. It didn’t seem like too much of a stretch to believe that none of them would be trapped and stolen in jars to die alone inside where the humans dwell. The fireflies don’t like that very much, and don’t want to avoid the house if they don’t have to.
In the morning, the house went to sleep and the fireflies disappeared. Trees don’t sleep, so the old tree in the backyard stayed awake to watch over the neighborhood. She asked her child, “how did you sleep in your new home?” “It was okay.” “Just okay?” she asked, and the child shrugged. “Well,” she continued, “I rather felt enchanted.”
The child left for the day and the mother stayed home to tidy up and empty boxes. She continued to try to register any attachment to the items in the boxes, but it was as if she was seeing them for the first time in her life. Often she feared that she would forget the child before the day ended, but that was silly, right? Who forgets their child? She put everything away nice and neatly and in the places where they belonged.
Afternoon returned and with it her child. Shiny dark red cherries in clumps in a bowl on the table always attracted her attention when she passed through the kitchen. The kids were playing in the yard. She didn’t know what it was about those cherries that always drew her in. Perhaps it’s because they never spoiled. She smiled. Every day should be like this one.