A woman stands on the kitchen floor, alone, cleaning off the dried cheese
from her baby’s day old plate. The sun shines on her tan face through the cracked window.
All is silent in the neighborhood. The mother glances to her right and sees
trees sway their green tinted leaves with the wind
like candle flames motion back and forth.
It’s getting warm in the little wooden kitchen.
The clock hits 9 o'clock, the birds chirp on the deck, the cat meows softly.
She reaches and pulls the glass doors back,
the screen door separates her from the outside.
Scchhrrchhh goes the door.
I’m the woman’s daughter, the first one.
I’m the first one so if this were a monarch, I would be the princess, high in a castle with pearls around my neck, ribbons in my hair twirled within my brown locks.
That's not how it works in this castle.
It’s hard when all your love is for her yet she must split it between the two of us.
She’s the second one, second place is first to lose.
Soon the screen door makes another noise.
It tears right open by the fat squirrel- the one that’s been eating the seeds
from the homemade bird feeder.
The squirrel scratches its claws along the wooden floor, bushy tail in the air
swaying like the trees are.
Running all over
on the table, pantry, bookshelf.
My mother screams.
I sit still on the sofa, helpless like the little child I was.
Or maybe I was pointless,
just there, running around like the squirrel, creating chaos.
Moment of despair, and I have nothing to give
except my own screams
that mix with my mother’s.
This adds to my case of being pointless, the first one.
Surely something’s going to happen here; surely there’s something I can do.
The creepy claws clacked like the heels on the wooden floor in the morning when mom leaves,
The squirrel seems to say goodbye as it races up the stairs.
It hops onto the carpet, to the stairs and up toward my little sister
fast asleep in her cradle. My mother races faster than I have ever seen.
She must save the baby.
The stairs pound between the squirrel steps and mother’s march.
My ‘big sister’ instincts take complete control as I crawl up the stairs.
I must save my sister.
“No! Stay downstairs, don’t come up here!”
I hate that word…
I crawl even faster.
Mother grabs a wooden broom and enters the bright yellow painted nursery.
The picture frames swayed, the windowsill stayed still, the bookshelf creaked slightly.
My sister’s eyes blink wide open.
She places her marbled brown eyes on the furry little animal, seemed scared but stretched over the railing. Her sticky fingers, from syrup at breakfast, pointed at the black eyes.
She stretches over with all her might...
My mother screams louder than ever before.
“No! Don’t touch it!”
That word again..
Just enough of a scare to startle the squirrel.
As well as myself.
Frightened, I crawl to the corner of the room into the bean bag chair.
The rustle of chaos somehow remind me of the banter of the daytime
but at night the crickets clicked in harmony,
that seemed to call me in my sheets.
The rush of the day arose in the morning sun.
The startled squirrel scurries over to the windowsill
and uses all of its might, leaps through another mesh screen and into the swaying trees.
No more screams
Only the sound of sighs fill the summer air.
My baby sister is safe
wrapped in my blue cotton blanket.
And I remain quiet.
From downstairs, the front door cracks open
and big brown boots march onto the tile like a beat of a slow drum.
The briefcase drops down and the rustle of a coat falls like a cloud.
“Hi honey, you’ll never guess what just happened!”
All of this is so unlikely, but I remember everything.
Even the round black eyes of the fat squirrel.
I remember my mother’s screams.
I remember my sister’s laughs, the same one she still has today.
I remember my father’s face,
Eyebrows risen, chuckled laugh, and nose scrunched up to his forehead
and how he didn’t believe us.
I remember little me.
I remember how small I was, how the simplest noise made me laugh, how the the word “no” made me cry.
But now, I’ve grown.
I’m much taller, much smarter, but maybe not always wiser.
I have a job so I’m number one now.
I’m not pointless, I have purpose.
I may live alone now,
In my own apartment with my own screen doors and windows.
If a squirrel were to ever appear, I would know exactly what to do.
My mother still screams, my sister still laughs, and my father still drops his briefcase everyday.
But we are all still together after all these decades. We smile and pray together.
We talk everyday, we ask advice and questions, we never go to bed angry.
The chaos calmed, the birds chirp, the word “no” is still alive, but so is my family.
And for that, forever thankful.