Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Family in the Big Yellow House

The family is sprawled stiffly in the living room of the big yellow house. Knees bent awkwardly, arms in graceless positions. The mother is holding an oversized storybook, hoping to entertain the children. The little girl, her unnaturally long hair in two thick ponytails, is perched in the armchair.  Their poodle, gazing at the girl with an unbroken stare, sits on the ottoman at her feet. The baby lies on the floor. There is nowhere else to put him, but he lies quietly, content to be there. 

The father is missing from this cozy group. He is sitting on the bed upstairs because he doesn't have any clothes, and no one knows what effect it may have on the children, not to mention visitors to the house, if he is allowed to roam around naked.

At one end of the living room the wallpaper is ripped off - the curtains too. Even the wood frame of the window is missing. The history of this desecration is a mystery. There are other mysteries in the house too, but the family doesn't know or care what happened before they came to live here. This house is wonderful to them. Their previous home was no more than a box, cramped and dark.

Granny is in the kitchen. She can't sit down and works continuously at the big cast iron stove that dominates the back wall. There is a gas stove in the room, but Granny prefers the big black wood stove. She is set in her ways. She is wearing the same print housedress and muslin apron she has worn for six or more decades. She is comfortable in these clothes and she sees no need to update them. At some point in the past Granny met with an accident. One of her feet is gone. She doesn't remember how she lost it, but thinks it was a result of some childish foolishness. She is happy to work at the stove all day balancing on her good foot and the prosthetic that is stuck to her stump. Granny is not one to complain. She has survived a long time and is just happy to be there with the family.

On the round oak table in the middle of the kitchen sits a freshly baked pie. Another child, a tow-headed girl with indistinct features, is trying to climb onto a chair and get her fingers in the pie. She is not adept at maneuvering the chair and can't get it close enough. Granny ignores her. The child has been trying to get that pie for a long time and has not succeeded yet. Granny knows that even with her awkward prosthetic she can cross the kitchen quickly enough to save the pie if need be. 

Yes, the family is happy and comfortable in the big yellow house. They don't question how they came to live here, just as they don't question the giant hand. A hand large enough to gather the entire family into it and still have room for more. The hand visits regularly. It moves the furniture around, adding new pieces and removing old ones. It lifts the inhabitants from room to room so they don't need to walk or climb the stairs. The hand can be clumsy, knocking the delicate china cups out of the corner cabinet or toppling the grandfather clock so that it crashes on the coffee table and spills the flower arrangement. But the family doesn’t complain. They regard the hand with great reverence. It brings them gifts - a painting to put above the fireplace, gold trimmed bowls to set on the buffet, a new dog, and sometimes even a new family member. They have complete faith in the hand and its benevolence. It was the hand that brought them to live in this lovely place.

1 comment:

  1. Cute story - and I am glad the hand is helping them. Can't wait to see what else the hand does.