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Little Yellow House

I saw the little yellow house again on my walk home from school today. It sat slightly elevated on a not-quite-a-hill, looking chipper and polished as usual. Some days I think going to school is worth it, just to see the little yellow house smiling over the cityscape as if everything was always okay. It is hard to be a schoolgirl; it is hard to begin the walk every morning knowing your day may bring more sorrow then joy. But always on the way I can ask for a grin from the little yellow house, smiling in that peculiar way that only ancient and pleasant cottages are capable of. And at the end of the day as I make my way home, it is the same. One unchanging certainty in a fastly falling world.
As I walk by I imagine the residents that live there. I know imagining is a game for children, but I’m still a child - aren’t I? Although I’ve never seen the inhabitants I imagine all the perfect details of a little old couple holding hands. The lady who must have an old fashioned name like Cordelia or Cecile, but probably prefers to go by grandma or just mawmaw - spends her time in the garden behind the house. I’m sure there is a garden, the tall white picket fence tells me so. Sometimes I can smell a funny smell, and I’m sure it’s the grandma making stew from her organic vegetables. A funny sort of stew. She may be one of those flapper grandmas that grew up in the twenties and never learned to cook but still keeps the cookie jar full - it may be her life duty to keep the cookie jar full.
I’m sure the old man likes to tease his wife and tell good stories of times long gone by, stories spiced by years and many re-tellings. I’m sure he works on a garden railroad and reads newspapers in the morning with his toast and coffee. I’m sure they both have white curly hair, I’m sure he has a little mustache, I’m sure they fight once in a while, but I’m sure they kiss more. I’m sure he leaves witty love notes around the house and I’m sure they both have lots of wrinkles in just the right places.
As I walk by the little yellow house I notice the whitewashed front porch and squeaky clean rockers. The green shutters twinkle mischievously in the early morning sun. I see a fancy car in the driveway and wonder if the couple's grown kids are visiting, bringing much anticipated grandchildren. I look for assurance, the house shines forth in confirmation - of course I’m right, her walls are beaming with youthful happiness and aged wisdom.


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“Everything will be alright” I tell myself. “I’m just a kid who makes mistakes, but I’ve got time to learn.” I’m too busy crying to steer myself any particular direction, but my feet know the way home and take me there automatically. “Today has been a hard day” I am still talking to myself, but needing a friend I look up for the reassuring smile of the little yellow house - my eyes see cars, lots of them. Cars covered in lights - red and blue. There is thin yellow tape surrounding the yard, but the festive color is blocked by horrid black words that read “caution - crime scene.” One large hole sits in the once perfect white picket fence.
“Robbery” I think with horror. “How could anyone do such a thing,” I did not need this excitement on an already awful day. But time and strangers just don’t take account that you’ve already filled your capacity for woe. I imagine the little old couple hugging each other and talking it through - I relax.
A policeman walks by and asks my business. Can’t anyone see that I’m just an innocent child?
“What’s going on here?”
“Are you friends with these people?” his voice is rude and not friendly.
“Sort of” I lie, but it feels like the truth. The man raises his eyebrows.
“ I mean I never met them” my voice is shaking now. I’ve done nothing wrong, but there is is nothing like a policeman with a stern look to make you feel like the world’s guiltiest criminal.
“I’m a neighbor - what happened?”
The police officer looks down at me. Now maybe he sees that I mean no harm, that I’m confused and don’t know anything.
“Drug bust” he whispers “now be on your way." He didn’t have to ask me, I was already jogging homeward. I can imagine perfectly the headlines: “Marijuana farm concealed in cute cottage.” I can’t think about it anymore - I have a mile to go and children to feed, and no one to call my friend - not anymore.
I look behind me at the woeful scene, things aren’t as they seem. There is no sign of a smile.
Poor little yellow house.



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