The Volkswagen had finally stopped. Still groggy from sleep, Rydell lifted her head at her mother’s insistence to look out the window.
“We’re here!” Mrs. Firr announced with enthusiasm.
Squinting through one blurry eye she took in her new home. “Well,” she thought, “that’s a new one. We’ve never lived in a shed before.”
Scrubbing the last of the blurriness from her eyes she willed herself to believe her first impression of Missouri had been more than a comforting dream. She emerged from the car slowly. Maybe with a clearer look around the view might change. She desperately wanted to believe that it wasn’t really as dinky and run-down as it appeared.
Swinging her bare feat out of the car and onto the earth without looking down the soles of her feet sent warm water flying. Sometime during her sleep it had rained. She had noticed a slight sent of dew in the air when they arrived, but hadn’t put two and two together until the muddy water of a puddle was leeching up her pant legs.
“Wonderful!” she groaned to herself.
Teeth clenched with annoyance, she bent over to squeeze as much water out of the fabric as she could before she rolled up each leg just far enough to avoid the ground.
Somewhat dry again and sandals cleaned off, Rydell finally stepped out into their front lawn. It was huge! The patch of grass she had at their last place wasn’t even connected to their apartment building. In fact she had to travel almost four blocks just to find the grassy noel between two tall buildings. It was maintained by the city as a “park.” She had spent hours in the “city park” lying on the pouffy grass, stroking the ground to feel the blades pop up between her fingers. The kind of space around her now was something she had never experienced before. Nothing short of childish glee bubbled up through her as she surveyed the immensity of her yard. Could all of this really be at her disposal everyday?
Rydell peered into the distance and spotted another house far off on the top of a small rise. Nothing but land, a dilapidated barn, and small algae laced pond separated the distance between their neighbor’s house and this one. She craned her head around. No way, that wasn’t their closest neighbor! Was it? Nearly comatose in the thought of the vast space around them Rydell barely heard her parents calling her to come inside.
“Rydell! Rydell, come in and check out the new digs!” quipped her father.
Mr. Firr was one of those dads. The kind that is fun and hilarious to every other kid but wholly embarrassing to his own. He loved using words like “digs,” “dude,” “psychedelic,” or phrases like “’sup dog.” Things that had stopped being cool a decade ago, or current phrases he thought would be just as cool coming from a forty year old as they did a 20 year old.
Rydell shook her head and rolled her eyes at her fathers comment, but inside she chuckled at his self-accepted dork-hood. Making her way up the slight incline of their front yard she stepped up onto the porch. The wood groaned under her weight. Large chunks of white paint were peeling from its banister. Some of the floorboards looked as wilted as flower petals.
The door stood open. Walking past the jam, a wall of stale air slapped Rydell in the face. Scrunching her nose in disapproval Mr. Firr announced, “Oh, don’t worry. Mom’s opening every window in the place. It just needs to air out for a spell.”
The idea of her new home smelling like the outdoors lifted her attitude. It was a refreshing sent, the same one she inhaled on their drive here with hints of dew and honeysuckle.
“Well, go on! Roam around. Get a feel for the place” her father gave her a playful shove, pushing her further into the house.
As she walked around Rydell made a silent list of flaws. The ceilings were abnormally low. She, being about five foot, thought she might be able to touch them if she stood on her tiptoes. The wood floors looked more than well worn. Some of the doorframes were a bit slanted. The ceiling fans wobbled precariously as they spun. The floor sloped downward in the corners of some rooms. Thought it was carpeted she could tell from the lack of squeaking that only her room had a concrete floor. The overall size of the house’s rooms was small. Taking in all of the disadvantages of the house, there was a kind of endearing charm about it. Rydell couldn’t help but feel there was a grand history stored up in its walls and now she was given the chance to be a part of it.
Peering out the window of her room Rydell could see the backside of the yard. A large Oak tree provided shade from the morning sun. Her parents strolled in. Mr. Firr placed his arm about her mother’s shoulders. “Well kiddo, what do you think? Her mother asked.
Rydell considered the question for a moment before answering. “I think the house might just fall over at any minute. But I also think it just needs a little love.” Mr. and Mrs. Firr chuckled in agreement.
A loud screech sounded from the front yard. “Guess the movers found the place. I was afraid they would get as lost in the country as we did. C’mon, find your tennis shoes in the car and help the movers haul stuff in” her mother said while turning to leave the room.
Outside she stopped at the creak of the wilting porch board’s. She watched, as her mother and father stood by the Volkswagen face-to-face, arms wrapped loosely around one another’s waists. Her mother’s forehead fell into Mr. Firr’s chest as his head lowered to press a kiss into her wispy mane.
Something about this place felt right. It was like a blanket, warm and protective. It really was what her parents had hoped for, place to hide away from the rest of the world.
But she had to wonder, how much protection could a blanket really provide if the world actually did decide to break apart?