I’ll Only Be a Minute: (Almost fiction)

I never liked this ugly porch; it’s slanted. My rocker used to tilt forward. He told me all porches are slanted to keep the rain running off, but this one’s too slanty, you know? And barely wide enough for a tiny table in summer. We had to set the pitcher of tea on the floor because there was never room beside the plates. 

The railings are shaky, be careful. We never did replace those screws on the bottom. The grapevine does look great, though; except where the beetles chewed lace patterns into the leaves. This was the first year it had fruit- just a few tiny sour pinkish green ones. I used to pop them in my mouth when I’d go out to check the mail. 

I always liked the purple I painted the door, the enamel is just so shiny. I love it. They’ll probably paint over it, purple is kinda weird, I know. I liked how it looked with mums last fall, and then it looked nice with a cranberry wreath at Christmas. Maybe I’ll paint the door down at the new place, I think it’s just white, I don’t even know, I never noticed. 

Wow, the kitchen floor looks nice, cleaner than it was when we lived here. 

But the walls. The walls were hard to hang things on, horse hair, lathe and plaster. Look at the holes we never patched up, I just covered ’em with Monet prints. There’s not really room for them where we live now, they’re just in a box.

I never bought drapes, but who would notice, no one’s on that wide field outside except the neighbor’s horses. I do miss the horses. And occasionally the other neighbor on his tractor. I used to check out the window for him before I quick ran to the bedroom to get a towel after a shower. 

No, I never really loved this house. Sarah loved it; she used to say that all the time, “I just love your house,” like it was a find. Like I had it fixed up nice. But I knew she just said it to make me feel better. Every wall was dirty from the kids, the bathrooms both needed new everything, we could have mowed the lawn twice as much, and you know how bad the flies are in the summer living so close to that dairy.

I just have a few boxes to grab from the back room, our Christmas decorations. I can’t believe I forgot them, but the shelf is kinda behind the door. Once I have them, I don’t care what’s left. I think there are some shelves upstairs, I don’t even want to see what’s left.

I don’t care. Let the new owners have ’em. 

Okay, fine. I did like it here, enough. It did feel nice with the maple leaves in the window all summer and the zinnias and delphinium grew like the soil was made out of miracle grow. 

And it’s got high ceilings, doesn’t it, and that nice wide moulding around the windows and a lot of stuff I didn’t even notice except the new house is totally different.

I loved taking walks out back down the corn field, and turning around and seeing the tall triangle of a barn, and the window they turned on it’s side up in the peak of the hayloft so it was diamond shaped instead of square. I used to think, “We own this barn. We own it. We’re only twenty seven, and we own this big old beautiful barn.” I always thought I’d paint it, the way the barn door stood open and dark, like a quiet monument to all the work that had been done over the years. It made me feel like we were really grown-ups. Like we were the Wilders, well like he was. Like I was married to Pa, cutting wood and hauling hay. It made me want to grow things and can them and make quilts and read more books to the kids.  

I thought I’d do more, I thought we’d eventually make it perfect, like buy a real bedroom set or pave the driveway. I always felt like we kinda threw together furniture from Salvation Army, not really what I would pick out, just what we had. It felt like we were just biding time until we did what we really wanted to. Not like we were really living. 

But when I think of all the beautiful things I’ve seen here over these six years, like that silent white day when we stood at the end of the driveway, and the snow came down so slow and heavy. We both stuck our tongues out and caught them until the bus pulled up and she got on. And the windy fall days when we went out to feed the chickens and jumped on the puddles to crack the ice. I think about all three of them learning to ride their bikes, and how Duchess is buried out back, and how many times I had parties where people came with their hands full of food and left with their babies sleeping on their shoulders down the porch steps lined with tea lights in mason jars. When I think of how much I hated it, really hated it, when he first drove me past it in the muddy spring, and we moved in and I cried over the shag carpet in the twin’s room, and how I think of it like a magazine house now, all pastels and white and flowers on the table, and our wedding quilt in the bedroom, I think, I guess I did make it really mine. I guess I did love it. I guess this was seven years of my life, lived right here.

But it doesn’t love me back, it won’t even miss me, It won’t remember me, when I drive by in a year or ten and say, “Remember when this was us, remember when this was our life?” It will be someone else’s, and the curtains will be closed and it will have given all its beautiful grapes to some other woman, and she’ll keep the yard neater and paint the door boring white, and put ugly yellow marigolds around this ugly porch.

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