Paul pulled out his scrap of paper again, expounding on the idea he’d captured from the picture- an old Victorian house, in the process of being repainted a bright mixture of colors, of which were not at all classical and had children wrestling in the lawn.
Sarah crept up the stairs of her new house – her parents were out shopping for staples before beginning the work of rehabilitating – unhappy but intent on trying to make the most of it. Her younger brother was still out on the front yard, wrestling with the neighbor kid who’d brought the housewarming casserole, which served to remind her parents that the kitchen was lacking and that part of their luggage hadn’t arrived yet. They were supposed to be weeding. Sarah scolded tat them inside her head, before shaking it and adding condescendingly, they’re just kids. She didn’t often enjoy the company of her younger brother, but sometimes he was alright to be around.
The main stairs creaked a lot, but with parents in the business of rehabilitating, she was adept at remembering where and how loudly it complained of her weight, and would place her foot somewhere else next time, in order to find the quietest route. In time, usually halfway into the remodeling, she’d be able to fly up those stairs with only the faintest of steps. At these, her parents would joke about her really flying, as if she hadn’t touched the stairs at all. Her brother would then try, hungry for the same attentions, but he had neither the patience, the memory, or the conscious control of how his weight was distributed. Eventually, he’d give up, and simply try to leap up as many stars as he could in one step, in every step, stomping every time, almost as if the British were coming, and it was his job to “spread the alarm to every Middlesex village and farm.” Reading history – to the delight of her teachers and parents and disgust of her classmates – was also something she liked to do.
She’d reached the top by now, and was leaning gingerly on the railing, down from the battlements of her new world below. She found the master bedroom, dismissed it for now with an annoyed flick of her hand, the queen seeking suitable quarters, and continued to the next largest bedroom. Sarah crept along its floor, pacing cornrows for the creaks, and soon taking measured leaps and made-up dance steps through the invisible maze to the closet.
The door opened soundlessly, slowly and smoothly at her touch, and a smile crept back onto her face. She examined it, happy with its depth and size, and laid down to wait for somebody to find her, hopefully her brother, so she could scare him.
Paul picked up his dishes and Ris’s, rinsed and washed them, before leaving them in the dish drainer to air dry. She smiled up at him as he walked behind her, stroking a hand from shoulder tip to shoulder tip, behind her neck. They kissed lightly, and Paul returned to his office, knowing she’d return when she reached a pause in her thought process.
Paul didn’t glance at the picture when he passed it a second time, and disappeared into his office again, muting the upbeat classical techno for slower, more traditional classical.
Sarah sat up and stretched, realizing that she’d fallen asleep but unaware of how long. She crawled on her hands and knees out of the closet, and heard the floor creak, stop for several feet, then creak again. The closet was barely bright enough for her to see, but she could tell that there was a square area in the floor that didn’t creak, which didn’t make sense. She figured out about where it was, then ran out of the room, half-heartedly dancing across her new territory, the floor complaining only scantily.
She heard the sounds of her family as she approached the stairs, and as she silently descended them, caught the delicious aroma of warm food in the air.
When she reached the kitchen, she found her father sitting at the head of their new antique dinner table, an old blueprint spread out in front of him. Her mother stood at the counter pulling plates of the casserole out of a cheap but brand new microwave that made the few lights flicker as it heated their dinner.
“I picked out my bedroom,” Sarah announced to the room. Her father looked up and her mother turned to look at her, both smiling, while her brother moaned, disappointed that, once again, he didn’t get first choice.
“Right on time, as usual. Good work, Sarah!” Her father offered, knowing she’d take good care of the room, and very likely help him in the rehabbing.