Friday, August 5, 2016

FICTION - The Apple Tree - Part 1 By Stacie Hutchinson

Julie pulled into the driveway of the summer rental, a day early. It wasn’t difficult to see that the cottage wasn’t exactly “classic and charming” as advertised, but more like worn and in need of repair. The “…welcoming and winding driveway” was really just a long dirt road with over grown shrubbery. Julie reached for her door handle, keenly aware that her kids were sound asleep. Not wanting to wake them, she slowly and carefully pushed the door open. Not a sound was made as she opened the car door and she was thankful for her new vehicle. 

“What have I gotten us into,” she thought, taking in the house and the land surrounding it. “Well, at least it is only for a few months.” 

She hoped. 

“Mama, door?” Jeremy said, jolting Julie from her thoughts. 

“How did you get out of your car seat?” Julie knew the answer to that question without asking. Jeremy had been escaping from his car seat for at least a year now. Julie had tried all of the usual tricks to keep him in, but nothing worked. She just accepted the fact that Jeremy was an escape artist, the next Houdini.
Jeremy stood at the front door on the “…covered porch with a welcoming rocking chair” or more like, at Julie’s quick surmise, a landing with a rickety chair that was probably as old as the house itself. Her boy’s gaze was fixed upon the door, his body, ever in motion, twitched and trembled with anticipation and excitement.
“Mama, door!” he demanded. His patience was wearing thin with Julie and this whole adventure. 

“Ok, let me get the keys.” Julie returned to the car and deliberated on waking up the baby. Would she be safe in the car while she opened the porch door for Jeremy? The neighborhood did seem quiet as the ad had stated. She knew that if she woke Lily that there would be no peace for her for the rest of the day. Lily was not a napper (even at 13 months) and the 2 hour nap she took while in the car would give the already very energetic child an extra dose, or two, of vigor and bounce. 

With a resigning sigh Julie unfastened the car seat and carefully freed the little girl. Lily woke with a smile, as she usually did, opened her eyes and immediately took in her surroundings. 

“Jmee” she pointed to her brother, whose feet were shuffling while he scrutinized the door like a scientist searching for life in a petri dish. 

Julie was afraid to open the door. Somehow she didn’t think she would find a “…welcoming and spacious foyer.” Slowly she put the key in the lock; slowly she began to push the door; slowly she poked her head in. “Mama, door! Mama, door!” The foyer was, surprisingly, an actual foyer. Although not exactly spacious, it was large enough to hang coats and bags and store shoes. There was even a small built-in- bench that opened for extra storage and a couple of shelves with hooks on the wall above it. 

“Hmmm, not too bad, huh guys?” Beyond the foyer was the living room, which opened into the kitchen, where, Julie immediately noticed a large window looking out to the yard. The house was in a desperate need of cleaning and at least one coat of fresh paint; but besides that it was “comfortable and a great family home” just as the ad stated. Julie was pleased. 

The “charismatic…” kitchen was a hodge-podge of cabinets, appliances and fixtures. Some of the cabinets looked to be the original, while others were from mid-century and yet others from a more recent time. All were painted white with black knobs, which somehow allowed for a unified and pleasant look. There was a yellow refrigerator, a black stove, and a white dishwasher that was so small that Julie thought she might have to run it at least twice a day. Oh, boy, she thought. The counters were surfaced with blue and white subway tiles and the floors looked to be the original hardwood. The main focus in the kitchen was the large picture window that rested above the sink and framed the back yard of the home.

“Mama up! Mama up!” said Jeremy as he began to ascend the wooden stairs to the second floor. But before Julie could take the first step, there was a rap on the door followed immediately by a booming

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