Red, White, Blue, and Brown.

Her knuckles were an iridescent white as she scrubbed out the pots in the sink. Tiny water droplets peppered her blue, cotton dress.

                Midmorning glinted off the silver body of a half-submerged saucepan while a continuous loop of shrieks and laughter wafted in from the open window. Children were starting to conglomerate on the streets playing, fighting, imagining. 

                The small joints in her fingers rejoiced as she relaxed them, finished with another round of scrubbing. She ran a hand through her red tresses and sighed, eying the work still left to be completed. 

                Her son sat in the living room where she could see him. Content to play with his toys, Michael was uncharacteristically quiet this morning, enthralled in the train set his father had made for him, his pride and joy. Its track lay in a blocky, t-shaped fashion along the carpet and Michael loved to spend time with the shiny silver cars and bright red caboose. He loved to enthrall himself in the gleam of the polish, the intricateness of the design, the wholesome attractiveness of the set.

                The doorbell went off in the house with a resounding ding dong. Michael’s mother glanced up from the dishes and rung her wet hands out on a dishrag. Her bare feet padded on the floor as she went to answer the door on the east side of the house, shooting her son a smile on her way there.

                She opened the door to find a small, brown face looking up at her.

                “Hello Jay,” she said.

                “Hi ma’am,” returned the little brown boy with a little, toothy smile upon his lips.

                “Won’t you come in?” she asked, opening the door wider so that Jay could enter.

                “Michael,” his mother called into the house as her eyes took Jay in, standing quietly and reservedly in the corner of the rug. “Jay is here to play with you.” Her voice climbed in octave near the ends of her sentences.

                Michael quickly stumbled in from the adjacent room to greet this new playmate. Their initial greeting reminded her of a pair of dogs greeting each other for the first time, testing boundaries, establishing territories, exchanging high pitched small talk in place of explorative sniffs.

                In a matter of seconds, they scampered off to play and she slowly meandered back to the kitchen. The pots taunted her as she mused upon Jay’s influence over Michael. She’d heard enough of the neighbors talk about how his brothers had become somewhat of a terror in their neighborhood. The most infamous instance was purposely kicking over the beautiful mermaid fountain in Nina Ying’s garden. Still, it was not her place to judge Jay on the actions of others.

                As the day wore on, Jay and Michael seemed to be getting along fine enough.

                “Do you boys want a popsicle?” she found herself asking as they emerged from the backyard, rosy cheeked from exercise. Their small faces nodded in eagerness and she made her way to the freezer and pulled out a box. She reached a hand in only to discover only one icy package in the corner of the cardboard.

                “Oh,” she said, pulling it out by the edges of the white plastic, “I guess there’s only one, kids.”

                She looked at both boys, each already salivating at the thought of frozen cherry flavoring between their lips.

                “Well,” she screwed up her lips and then smiled at Jay.

                “Jay, would you like the last popsicle?”

 

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~ by Jade Elizabeth on July 3, 2011.

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