“Are you ready?”
From a remote place in, or outside of, the universe, the words burst forth. Racing past planets and stars, arcing over and around the moon, descending downward, the question resonated. Purposefully self-propelled, dropping in altitude from atmosphere to atmosphere, through layers of light and billowy mists, they proceeded. The earth grew larger and larger as a point of contact drew closer and closer. Continents became countries. Countries became mountains and valleys, cities and pastures. Having zeroed in on one dimly lit town, the question slowed, a bit. It hovered there, over one particular house.
There was nothing extraordinary about the two story, wooden framed house below. If anything called a second look to the drab, gray building, it would be that it just didn’t fit in. In a neighborhood of aging brick, its barn wood siding made it appear not only ancient, but better suited for a countryside hilltop. Round about its entire exterior was a picket fence of the same dull wood. An odd pairing for such a fence, the front gate was made of twisted iron that was likely ornate in days gone by. Now, its gleam had also gone gray. Hanging on bent hinges, it sang with the breeze to the predawn hour.
Barely there, the front yard consisted of two small patches of unkempt lawn, divided by six feet of sidewalk. The porch-less front stoop prefaced a darker gray, windowless door. A rusty metal mailbox hung, cockeyed, on one rusty nail. Every street-facing window was shuttered tight.
The backyard was larger, but barely. Squeezed into one side of the tiny lot, was a once red swing set, complete with slide, teeter-totter, and two squeaky belt style swings. Proximity to the back fence made it impossible for any height to be achieved. Like an afterthought, on the other side of the cramped space, was a tiny concrete garden table, with one matching curved bench, and one frayed fabric and aluminum lawn chair. Four concrete blocks served as a stoop to the back door which, like the front, was solid, without even a peephole. The lower level windows were not shuttered, but heavily curtained. Not one ray of stray light escaped them. Only one of four upstairs windows was closed off to the outside.
The remaining three windows removed any notion of the house being abandoned. Although no light filtered from them, the moonlight revealed lingering, muddled masterpieces, wrought by tiny fingers. Thin silhouettes adorned in flowing gowns, renditions of faraway architecture, and outlined faces with cat-like eyes and pouty lips filled the furthest filthy windowpane. The next one presented with unicorns, hearts, flowers, and faceless heads, wearing a myriad of hairstyles and up-dos. The third window resembled the remnants of disaster involving a spilled bowl of alphabet soup. Letters covered the lowest foot of hazy glass, with occasional words and phrases emerging from the mix.
This artwork wasn’t the only sign of life. On each windowsill, hardly visible in the wee morning hours, was one small clay pot, with one thirsty, green life, searching for the sun.
Hovering there, over the house, observing the condition and plights of those inside, the words sparkled, as if drawing charge from an electrical current of joy. They danced upon the first beam of morning light, like a wild horse dances at an opening gate.
Diving into freefall, effortlessly piercing shabby shingles and rotting wood, the words fell straight into the hearts and minds of three sleeping children. Once there, they exploded like a million fireworks, with sparks of joy, hope, and unforgettable adventure!
Are YOU ready?