Monday, November 30, 2009

The House

Sarah crept up the stairs of her new house – her parents were out shopping for staples before beginning the work of rehabilitating – unhappy but intent on trying to make the most of it. Her younger brother was still out on the front yard, wrestling with the neighbor kid who'd brought the housewarming casserole, which served to remind her parents that the kitchen was lacking and that part of their luggage hadn't arrived yet. They were supposed to be weeding. Sarah scolded them inside her head, before shaking it and adding condescendingly, "They're just kids." She didn't often enjoy the company of her younger brother, but sometimes he was alright to be around.

The main stairs creaked a lot, but with parents in the business of rehabilitating, she was adept at remembering where and how loudly it complained of her weight, and would place her foot somewhere else next time in order to find the quietest route. In time, usually halfway into the remodeling, she'd be able to fly up those stairs with only the faintest of steps. At this, her parents would joke about her really flying, as if she hadn't touched the stairs at all. Her brother would then try, hungry for the same attentions, but he had neither the patience, the memory, nor the conscious control of how his weight was distributed. Eventually he'd give up and simply try to leap up as many stars as he could in one step in every step, stomping every time, almost as if the British were coming and it was his job to "spread the alarm to every Middlesex village and farm." Reading history – to the delight of her teachers and parents and disgust of her classmates – was also something she liked to do.

She'd reached the top by now and was leaning gingerly on the railing, down from the battlements of her new world below. She found the master bedroom, dismissed it for now with an annoyed flick of her hand, the Queen of Living Accommodations seeking suitable quarters, and continued to the next largest bedroom. Sarah crept along its floor, pacing cornrows for the creaks and was soon taking measured leaps and made-up dance steps through the invisible maze to the closet.

The door opened soundlessly, slowly, and smoothly at her touch and a smile crept back onto her face. She examined it, happy with its depth and size, and laid down to wait for somebody to find her, hopefully her brother so she could scare him.

~

Sarah sat up, stretched, and dusted herself off, realizing that she'd fallen asleep but unaware of how long she'd dozed. She crawled on her hands and knees out of the closet and heard the floor creak, stop for several feet, then creak again. The closet was barely bright enough for her to see, but she could tell that there was a square area in the floor that didn't creak, which didn't make sense. She figured out about where it was, then ran out of the room, half-heartedly dancing across her new territory, the floor complaining only scantily.
She heard the sounds of her family as she approached the stairs and, as she silently descended them, caught the delicious aroma of warm food in the air.

When she reached the kitchen, she found her father sitting at the head of their new antique dinner table, an old blueprint spread out in front of him. Her mother stood at the counter pulling plates of the casserole out of a cheap but brand new microwave that made the few lights flicker as it heated their dinner.

"I picked out my bedroom," Sarah announced to the room. Her father looked up and her mother turned to look at her, both smiling, while her brother moaned, disappointed that, once again, he didn't get first choice.
"Right on time, as usual. Good work, Sarah!" Her father offered, knowing she'd take good care of the room, and very likely help him in the rehabbing.

Sarah let her mind wander and wonder about her closet for that evening, and did not return to it until the next morning. Between her mother, brother, and herself, her belongings and her brother's to their respective rooms. He got to choose his own as well, though certainly not allowed to master suite.

~

The following morning, with the early sunlight shining blindingly into her bedroom windows, she returned to exploring. Starting with a mop and a bucket of water, scavenged from their belongings by her father, she set to work. The dust had settled heavily in the little-used rooms and corners of the house, and she grew to learn its secrets nearly as well as her father when he attempted to fill in the holes and missing pages in the plans.

From the parlor, sitting room, and dining room, she mopped to the closet under the stairs and the stairs themselves before turning to the upstairs in the early afternoon and after a quick lunch. Her brother had long since grown restless and turned to the outside to explore, once again with the neighbor boy. She wondered for the briefest of moments if their tussle the day before resolved anything, boys with their hierarchy and pecking order, before sweeping that too out of her mind and into the murky waters of the bucket. Sarah retrieved fresh water before returning to work.

Leaving her bedroom and closet for last, she dusted the stairs, railing, battlements, bathroom, still another spare bedroom and the master suite. When she reached her brother's bedroom, she took extra care to do a sloppy job and rushed to her own room. Here now, she returned to the meticulous precision and exploration as she had shown in the rest of the house. When she approached her closet, she set the mop aside, A quick dig through her carefully labeled boxes of belongings turned up a battery-powered, electric lantern and (she) placed it in a freshly cleaned spot on the floor just inside the closet's doorway. Sarah carried the bucket and mop closer carefully and cleared the floor of dust.

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