The curtains are stained with orange juice from the year before. The kids decided to have it in the bed one night, and well you know what happened. A fight broke out and she spent an hour cleaning it up as usual.
She wakes up and finds it strange no one seems to be around. No yelling. She sighs with relief.
They always hang around the yard, talking about the latest football game. She pretends she cares but she’d rather be left to do her own things. She barely even has free time to have it spent in such a boring manner, yet no one seems to ask her what she would rather be doing. But one day, she decided it was all about her from now on. Has since left the family circle, and formed her own filled with dreams.
A voice yells out to her. She runs thinking something has happened. It’s her son, wanting her to play basketball.
“Oh, John just grab one of the neighbor boys! I’m in my heels, I can’t do that right now!”
“Okay, mom.” He sighs and carries on alone.
Sure enough, five minutes pass and she hears a shriek of a child. She runs hysterically, finding John lying in front of a car. The ball across the street as if it perfectly landed there right in front of a long sidewalk. But her focus was not on the house across the street, but rather John. His limp body once full of the grace of an angel has the devils steal his light she thinks. All because I couldn’t just watch him. Tears roll down her cheeks, but as she looks up to ask God why he took her baby boy, her heart begins to race.
A house, not any normal house lies across the street. One she has never seen before. The ironwork magnificent, protective, yet graceful. A lion’s head creates the steeple and his tail wraps around the cone shaped roof as if it is protecting the house.
She realizes something is watching her threw the window. Large iron doors that look as if they cannot be opened await. She wonders if she pulls on them, if they will even open. She looks down, and John is no longer there. She thinks maybe someone poisoned her, or perhaps her medication is making her hallucinate. Panic overtakes her body.The sweat pouring out of her anxious body causes her to feel sick. Her home is no longer there either now. The only house left is the iron house.
Desperation is kicking in. No car has been in sight. She starts to believe maybe she is in some kind of simulation but the thought exits her mind quickly. Too many tv shows she thinks. After a few hours, she takes the chance.
The ball is still lying there. And as she tries to pick it up, it just keeps rolling down the sidewalk. As if it is some trick to lure her or maybe it is a joke. She has no idea what to think or who would think of this sick game. She grabs the door and it opens with barely a pull.
“Someone there?”She asks gently.
There is no answer. She walks further, slowly, calmly, but ready to defend. She hears something. Some kind of motor, a quieter one, maybe a toy?
A little boy sits in the living room, smiling at her.
He doesn’t say anything. It is as if she is the first woman he has ever seen. He begins to cry. She hears feet running. It’s a man.
“Hey hunny! Why don’t you comfort him!”
“I, I, didn’t know it was my job.”she says.
“Well, that’s how it works. I pay the bills, you deal with this!”
“Okay, I get it.” She mumbles along.
He leaves. She sits down, realizing there some cigarettes. It’s weird though, they have a rather old looking package. She smells them, and they are fresh. Strange, she thinks. Lights one up. Stares at the smoke, as if she is waiting to wake up from a nightmare.
This isn’t real she thinks. But then she coughs. The taste is definitely there. She hates it.
She touches the child, and he cries. ”
He’s real. He is all real.”
Her husband walks in, “Hunny, are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m okay. I think I’m just hormonal.”
“Huh? Hunny you know we do not speak of these things. I just know.”
She looks at the living room again, realizing it now has a strange looking television. A box like structure of wood around it. She doesn’t get it. The furniture looks like it is art deco. She thinks maybe 50’s or 60’s era.
“Am I going backwards?”she says.
“What was that hunny!?”
“I’m off to work sweetheart. I’ll see you in a bit. Try to make something good for dinner.”
“Love you too.”
She panics as the door shuts. She is in neither heaven nor hell. She is in something but she doesn’t even know what. She thinks, okay I’ll make the most of it.
She has to make a dinner in a kitchen where she doesn’t even know. She has to act as if everything is okay or she thinks these people will definitely think I am crazy. Just hold out she thinks, maybe I am in a coma. Hmmm.
He comes home, kisses her on the cheek when she tries for the mouth.
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Let’s not be that way in front of the child.”
He enjoys her meal but wonders about the inspiration. It is all the sudden inventive for such a woman like her. He praises her but senses some kind of change. He doesn’t know if he will like it or not in the years to come, but he believes in fixing things forever.
She lays her head down to rest and thinks of the life she once had. Her own child. Her own husband. Tears roll down her cheeks quietly and no one knows they are even shed but herself. This pains her. She falls asleep trying to accept the reality. Trying to leave the pain behind.
She wakes up to him tugging upon her sleeve.
“Mommy! Mommy! I have to go to school soon. Where’s my lunch?”
“I…I…” She panics…”I think I it’s in the fridge, hold on.”
Sure enough it is. She doesn’t remember ever packing it though. She doesn’t even know his name yet. She thinks, what’s my name?
So many thoughts racing, their almost uncontrollable. He’s staring at her, as if he knows something is different about her. Children always know when things are off. It is as if intuition is at its peak at those ages.
He runs out the door, barely making the bus.
Now, time for some investigation. She runs upstairs, trying to find anything with a name on it. She has to know who she is, who they are, where she is, in order to answer questions later. Nothing makes sense and she is overwhelmed with only an afternoon to figure this out it seems.
She finds something. A filing cabinet of some fancy kind. After some ravaging she was able to find birth certificates. Apparently her name is Margaret, her son is Alvin, and her husband is Edward.
Really, Alvin? She thinks. Poor kid.
She is 32 years old, Edward is 34, and Alvin is 9. None of this makes sense to her. She feels she was older, but she can’t remember how old. Everything seems to be getting more difficult to remember from her previous life. Tears roll down her face. Jack, her real son, is no longer visible in her mind. She pretends to hug the floor as if it’s him but this only results in a prolonged anxiety spell. She knows this will solve nothing. She must figure out how to get back home and not forget everyone.
She reads on, finding out more and more about the family. Looking at photographs, drawings, mailings, anything she can use to gain information. It becomes less and less painful as she continues.
The door slams.
“Hunny!” Edward says.
“Yes, dear, I am in here.” Says Margaret.
“Did you make supper?”
She panics. “I’m so sorry. I failed to get anything done today.”
“Are you okay?” Edward asks.
“Yes, I’m fine. Just maybe a little bit of a flu coming on.”
“Okay, well, I guess me and the boy will go out to dinner. I’ll bring you something back my love. Please get some rest and be yourself again. I sure do miss your cooking.”
“I will. Thank you dear.”She says.
Finally, she’s alone again. Now, time to learn some recipes. The cookbook is extensive. Covered in flour and definitely used every day. She cannot imagine a woman cooking every single day but she gives it a chance. She picks something easy for tomorrow evening and hopes for the best.
Edward awakens her. “You fell asleep with the recipe book. How adorable.”
“Well, I wanted to make sure I was prepared for tomorrow.”
She sits with him, eats her dinner quietly, letting him talk about his day at work, who he had seen in town, and what new shoes he desires. She gathers more information and finds herself becoming intrigued the more he speaks. She starts to think hey this may not be that bad after all. His handsome, chiseled face radiates authenticity. Then she starts thinking of her own family again. Guilt rolls in. He kisses her. She feels his lips tug softly on hers then pull away even more gently. It was like nothing she felt before. So innocent. Her heart becomes weak as she looks in his eyes and she starts to feel as if she belongs here.
He holds her all night. Carefully caressing her body, memorizing every inch of her skin, so he can remember it forever. She does the same, barely sleeping all night.
She didn’t even wake when he left. She felt at peace. And now she feels guilty her other family is probably looking for her and she is sitting here, lying with another man, and taking care of another child. The tears flow. The sun is almost up and she will have to prepare Alvin’s lunch. The thought sends her into a downward spiral. The bedroom door bursts open.
“Mom! I need my lunch in ten! Please!” Alvin exclaims.
She can tell he in only a child and has no idea what is going through her mind.
“Sure hunny, I’ll have it ready. Brush your teeth.”
After she sends him on the bus, the house is so empty and quiet. At first, she thinks of lying around depressed, but quickly realizes she must try to get back home. The guilt keeps her going. She cannot just move on with another family, it isn’t right.
She comes across some photographs. There are all kinds of albums, titled, dated, and labeled in her handwriting. Her heart sinks. How? How is my writing here? She pulls the an album. Alvin was just born and she looks a little younger. Her hair is a different color, clothing is of the latest trend, and she doesn’t even remember where it was taken. It appears to be in a different home.
She pulls another album. Their wedding photographs. Edward looks handsome, she look so happy, but who are all these people? How do I know them? No one looks familiar. She spends the rest of the day, looking over photographs trying to find a hidden piece of her puzzle. As if something magically will happen and she will just wake up in another dimension. But….it doesn’t happen. She closes her eyes and prays to God but she is still at the same place in time.
The door opens and Alvin runs up with a drawing.
“Look at what I did!”
It’s two figures in a road, one boy, one woman, and a red ball. The exact moment that changed where she was in time. Her eyes widen, then quickly soften so he doesn’t become alarmed. She has no idea how Alvin would know of this event. He was inside.
“I see. Quite the nice drawing.What is it about Alvin?” She asks.
“I don’t know. I keep dreaming about it Mommy.”
She feels doomed. Relying upon a child to make sense out of the present and the past. It is clear to me he really has no idea, just like she does. She cradles him, caressing his hair as if he is her own. He is all she has right now and he is all she has right now.
“Hi Hunny! How was your day?!” Edward walks in and asks.
“Pretty uneventful. Looked over some photo albums and cleaned up around here a bit.” (She exaggerated the cleaning part, hehe).
“That’s good. Place looks nice. Thank you hunny.”
She has gotten used to the cooking part already. Although, Edward does ask why she seems to be making some new things, he is still pleased and not questioning her much. It seems like a routine has been established, enough where Margaret can start investigating and not be investigated herself. She’ll do anything to get back to her baby boy.
After dinner, she tosses and turns in bed. Thinking about the drawing Alvin did. How did he know that keeps going over and over inside her mind. Then screams erupt. It’s Alvin.
She rushed to his side, and he is covered in sweat.
“I think I had that dream again.”
“What can you tell me about it hunny?”
“He said…he said… help me, it’s John.”
Her hearts drops to the floor as she holds back tears. And she holds him until he falls asleep.