The early morning sun was liquid as the neighborhood slowly woke to the day. Looking up and down the street, one could observe the almost identical rows of houses, the well manicured lawns, and even the garden gnomes took on an appearance of close relation. Behind closed doors coffee was being made, juice was being poured and groggy kids were being roused, with many grunting protests, one by one. It’s to one of these little houses that we’re drawn, but it’s not like the others. If you stood on the sidewalk and just looked, nothing would stand out to the naked eye. But one can sense a certain, misplacement, about the place. Not that it’s a bad little house by any means, but there’s a sense that it does not belong in this perfect cookie cutter world. A kind of imperfection. We draw nearer still and we begin to hear sounds from within. “Abigaaaaail! Up! This second!” We see a frazzled young woman rush by the front bay window, brown hair in disarray, coffee mug in hand, handle of a toothbrush protruding from her mouth, and an unbuttoned slightly wrinkled blouse flapping against her pale skin still damp from a shower. Lori rushed into the kitchen muttering incoherencies to herself around the handle of the toothbrush. “Late, can’t believe I overslept, today of all days.”, then louder, “Abigaaaaaail!”, plunking her coffee cup down on the counter, she whirled around and yanked the toothbrush out of her mouth. “Abi..!” “Mom!” an exasperated voice called from the doorway. A young girl of about 14 stood just inside the kitchen, arms folded, and an amused look on her face as she watched her mother. Lori took in her daughter’s appearance. Fully dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, sandy blonde hair brushed and falling straight past her shoulders, back pack already on. A wave of love swept through her as she noted the sparkle of laughter in Abigail’s blue eyes. She reached down and began buttoning up her blouse. “Good, you’re ready to go. We’re late.” Abigail reached over and grabbed an apple from a bowl on the counter and took a bite. She leaned there munching as she regarded her mother. “And I’m ready. Just waiting on you.” Lori paused in tucking her shirt in her pinstriped pants and rolled her eyes at her daughter. “I know, I know. I overslept.” She turned and picked up her matching jacket from a kitchen chair. “You overslept today?” Abigail grabbed her mother’s briefcase and keys from the counter. Lori rushed past her daughter and began furiously managing her hair in the hall mirror. She began muttering again around a mouthful of bobby pins as she put her hair together. She whirled around again and dashed into the kitchen, to the hallway again, then into the den. “Damnit! Where are my keys?” As she rushed back towards the kitchen she came to a screeching halt in the hall where Abigail stood by the open front door, keys dangling from one outstretched finger. “Oh. Thanks.” She snatched them from her daughter and headed out, leaving Abigail to calmly close the door behind them. They were in such a rush today that they didn’t notice the small boy in the upstairs front window looking down on them as they left. But then they never do. His deep brown eyes peer out of a dirty little face as he watches their car round the bend and disappear out of sight. A soft sigh whispers through the now empty house and leaves nothing but a cold shadow where the little boy stood just seconds before.
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