Archive for the ‘neighbors’ Category
I do not need to see the paint to know it is there — a fresh coat of white where once grew the notches of their youth. Memories written in pencil tend to be erased, and those are the things you never like to think about. It was a trace of them, and it is gone.
The boys grow here, too. There is sunshine and warmth and toes sinking in sands ever shifting. The waves crash upon their laughter, and the boys wave back with salt-soaked smiles. Their hair is soft in strands of gold. Their shoulders brown and growing broader.
Somewhere in an overgrown garden are the fruits of their labor. Tiny leaves spring from seeds once carried home in love and paper cartons. They have been set free and forgotten — something new for countless raindrops to fall upon. They will grow and bloom and nobody will ever know that the boys were the ones to place them there. Only the roots will remember.
Here the ground is hot and it rolls towards the horizon. The boys are shouting as they run across it. There are paths worn in the hillside and their small steps keep the tall grass always parted. Rabbits dart, birds flock, and the boys sing songs made of their own device. They glow in the midday sun and their brows glisten accordingly.
Such is the way of chapters closed, next, and those being written. We have left pieces of us, some by chance and some with purpose. For example, there are places in the glen where our voices softly echo, and there are stories tucked away to tell when such things are needed. One is about an old dog asleep forever beneath the cherry tree, and it should be told fondly with just a hint of tears. Others are filled with countless bottles growing light and rather quick to empty. They should be told loud and often. We left all that, and a spot of quiet that wasn’t always so.
These are the words that fall from your postcard.
The sound was children laughing. The distance was measured in steps. There was skipping and screaming, and toys thrown asunder—the usual suspects of happiness that have lovingly littered our small street for the past two years.
“But there is something missing,” said the neighbor.
I said nothing and watched the children run by us. They took the hill with confidence, a blur of open mouths and hair blown by the wind. Between them flickered empty spaces of sunlight where my boys used to be.
I said nothing and watched the birds fly overhead. The clouds were low and pulled further down by greedy trees with nothing better to do. The mist fell across my cheeks, cool and sticky. It saved me the trouble of crying. The house just stood there with a blank look across its face, its door wide open in disbelief. Inside it was nothing but boxes, echoes, and the ghost of a home slowly dying.
The children ran back up the hill, a pack chasing after laughter. Our eyes met as they passed me by, and for a moment the world fell silent. I could read the writing on their wall, the smiles upon their faces. They were happy, but they knew it too, for they had left the spaces.
At the top of the hill lives an old man in an old house with a will to walk much stronger than his legs. He is a series of shuffles and waves and long pauses that feel like a moment and look like forever. His sidewalk is littered with chairs like stepping stones. Each seat is a goal, between them a journey.
I stand on my front step, a witness to his great adventure. Dogs bark and howl. Bicycles come and go. Geese fly over and honk at cars. He cannot hear any of it, but he’ll sit a spell and watch it pass. The pause. The moment.
Once he has gathered enough of himself to carry on he does just that. A breath. A step. A stop. The dogs. The bikes. The geese. It is a play. A game. A lesson learned. It is musical chairs in reverse: One old man, too many seats, and the absence of a song.
I stand on my front step, a witness to his routine. A spy upon his solitary dance. Each chair a memory. He shuffles his feet in a world far away, and I hum a little something for the two of us.
Like most days it started with a song and sort of wandered off from there. There was a breakfast table surrounded by boys and windows, and the latter was covered both inside and out. The inside held bats and ghosts and assorted ghouls grouped more by the restrictions of a child’s reach than status or storyline. The outside was layered with a morning fog fresh off the mountains and bullets of rain that ricocheted into the flowerbed below.
The boys sat with their backs to the window and their attention in their cereal bowls. A car drove past and between a grinning skeleton and a winking witch I saw my tired neighbor driving home from her last round of radiation. She drove slow enough that I could just make out the twinkle in her eye beneath a brow that has been too heavy for too long. She looked exhausted and victorious. She glowed through the fog and the rain between us.
I dropped my wife and the boys off on the curb in front of the airport. The white zone is for the immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. Our hugs were tight and quick.
I drove home with a little boy’s tears wet on my shoulder. I had no place else to go.
There is a sudden silence in a house without children. It is haunting and lonely. It is also clean for extended periods of time.
Still, it is better loud and dirty. The ghosts and ghouls know it. They are ignored so far below eye level. Even the smile carved across the pumpkin looks forced. There is a sadness where seeds should be.
The street is quiet and the neighbors are sleeping. The rain will fall for days and it suits me fine.
It ain’t the Fantastic Mr. Fox, but it’s a wild animal(s) for a neighbor.
Please note, on the other side of that door are two very loud and anxious dogs (owners of the food bowls, pictured). Raccoons. Do. Not. Care.
Remember kids, if a raccoon knocks on your door and it isn’t wearing clothing it is most likely REAL and therefore DANGEROUS. If it is wearing pants you can let it in. Enjoy your absinthe.