There’s a little sand-golden house down a quiet road. Across from it, the wilds of Florida spike palm-shaped toward the sky, cardinals and their mates wheel over light gray shingled roof and perhaps three, four times a day a car will bumble along the road. Mostly mini-vans that remind the onlooker of chubby honey bees.
The front yard is small but not-too small. There are tall trees with the essence of willow in the way they grow and bow, but decorated with bright red flowers. The lawn is just grass. The drive way is just a drive way. There is a large window in the front beside a screened in door that has flowering honey suckle nested well grown beneath it. Here, real fat-honey bees trundle along; flower to flower searching. The Florida sun is forgiving rarely, harsh often. Stucco, stuffing, wood and air conditioning keep it livable inside.
In the living room there is a cat sprawled out on the back of a brown micro-fiber couch recently cleaned, in the den near a slumbering computer is a black cat resting comfortably. In the dark of the living room with her bare feet on cold tile is a girl inside a woman who walks this new house with the eyes of a child. This is her castle. This is her castle which her knight-turned-King made her, all for her. (And the cats too. But still….mostly here.)
The King sleeps while she travels through her home-castle, a whisper of skin on tile, checking and re-checking every room as if afraid tomorrow it will all disappear and become but a dream. She touched the back of a couch, the ears of her cat, trails her fingertips along a counter top and stops to watch the glow from the microwave light on her glass-top stove surface. The fridge hums and she swears it’s a happy tune. She cannot sleep, but it is the good kind of cannot-sleep. The kind where the excitement for tomorrow and the next day and the next keep your eyes awake.
Then, she sees it.
First, it is a portrait of a woman that looks just like here. She is thinner in face, thinner in hair, but her smile is the same and her eyes are blue.
Then, she sees another thing.
A sweater several sizes too big for even the girl, that used to belong to the woman smiling in the picture.
The girl feels her eyebrows bunch together in swift emotion. Her eyes wrinkle and a pain ticks behind them that begins a wavering in her sight. The air in her lungs pushes forcefully out as the tears well and she fights them. She touches the sweater. It’s white and it is soft and warm and it was once hers. But it will never be like touching her ever again.
“Mom,” she says quietly in her house. The King snores, a cat meows, a fridge hums. “Mom–can you see? Can you see what’s happened and where I am? Do you know how loved I am? Did you know that everything was going to be all right and okay?” She needs a moment as she looks up to her ceiling fan. It’s turned off for the night. “Mom…I wish you’d made it. I wish you were here. I wish you could see how I truly ended up. How proud you would have been of me and of Shawn. And I wish you could have seen my friends. The love in my life right now.
She picks up the sweater and folds it neatly. Reverently. A garment of memories from a little child’s legend long past. She lays it against the side-corner of the couch in a way that seems as if the owner of the sweater just set it down on her way through. That perhaps she forgot it and would come back for it.
“Mom,” the little girl says. “I miss you.”