A Field for a House
We stopped and she took my small hand in her grown-up one. We felt the sun set as it lightly pricked our cheeks with its warmth. It was April, so I could get by in just my jean jacket and not be too chilly once the sun went down. The grass was yellow and never ending. Off in the distance, my mother and I watched dad in his cowboy hat, striking down the firm ground with his feet, feeling for the first time that this was all his. Finally, he had all the land he needed to stretch out and raise my sisters and I properly; our dogs would run free. He told mom and I to stay behind – not for any particular reason other than he wanted to be alone. Mom and I watched dad survey his vastness. For years, he’d pinched pennies in order to save up enough money to purchase the property, letting mom tend to the bathing, swimming lessons, and wiping our runny noses. I looked up at mom and watched her sigh with relief; it may have been the first time I’d seen her do so.
She pointed to a log that was sitting in the grass and molding away now that it was detached from its trunk. Mom told me that right there, in the middle of the empty field, was where our new house would be. I tried to imagine walls, a kitchen for mom, and a place from our bunk beds on this untamed land. Maybe the family room would be ten paces from the log and the dog’s bed would have its own corner by that collection of Queen Anne’s Lace.
Mom looked at me and smiled. You tired? she asked. I shook my head. Good, she said, let’s dance. She took my hands and began to hum. I recognized the tune immediately: Down by the bay, where the watermelons grow. Back to my home, I dare not go I sang along. We held hands and swayed. She spun me around twice; the tall grass tickled my bottom when my skirt lifted up in the wind. Mom closed her eyes as she gently clasped my hands and I could see the corners of her mouth beckoning the slightest of smiles. I’d never seen her so free. I only hopped houses could fix things like dancing.