summer vacation

Copyright @ Brooke Stevens, 2019

Handprints on windows. Fingerprints on the fridge. A pair of wet socks in the sink. Cereal bowl and spoon sitting on the couch. The smart TV shows THE AMAZING WORLD OF GUMBALL to the dog. She’s curled up in a big pink blanket, surrounded by a dozen stuffed animals, and has a purple bow on her head. She wags her nub.

Lights are on in the bedrooms, the hallways, the writing room, the den.

There are dollops of bright blue toothpaste on the bathroom countertop. Water drops splashed across the mirror. A toilet that hasn’t been flushed all day. I hit the handle, down it goes.

Strands of toilet paper are wrapped around the railing of the back staircase like garland.

There’s a bird’s nest in a bucket in the mudroom. The garage door is wide open. My hammer, two screwdrivers, a saw, eight rusty railroad spikes and a pile of driftwood are on the floor.

Outside, the garden hose snakes across the driveway and floods the flowerbed. I shut it off and walk to the backyard where a yellow sweatshirt and more socks—one red and one green—hang on the fence. The gate is open.

There’s a tent set up. Soccer balls, books, Tupperware, and pots and pans are spread throughout the grass.

And there she is. Ten years old. Flat on her back on the trampoline.

“Hi, Daddy!”

She’s smiling, moving her arms and legs—making a snow angel, I guess—under shapeshifting clouds and a sun that promises no end.

~ K.J.

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