Feathers From the Sky(6)

By: Posy Roberts

“I liked it the time you went bright red. That was cool.”

“I looked like death warmed over.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“I looked like a ghost with its hair on fire, then.”

Jackson laughed at that, and I knew the exact second he flushed because I lost water pressure.

“Mom said lunch is nearly ready, so hurry your ass up and get done.”

“I’m sure that’s exactly what she said.” I shook my head, even if Jackson couldn’t see me, and then I heard the door shut.

After rinsing and washing my hair, I finally took the time to shower decently before giving my blue hair one last rinse. As I toweled off, I peeked at the results in the semifogged-over mirror. I liked it, especially for this time of year. The crappy towel mom had given me was stained with blue dye by the time I’d gotten my hair as dry as possible, and then I played a bit until my hair stuck up at all the right angles. Philip always liked when it looked like I had sex hair. I even used a little styling paste to keep it in place.

“You look like a skinny Smurf” was the first thing Christopher said when I sat down at the kitchen table—mom had put all the leaves in it, and Corey, Jackson, Justine, and Jaycee still had to sit on folding chairs at the kids’ table, which was basically a card table set up a few feet away.

“Stop it,” his wife told him, as she elbowed him.

“Thanks, Holly,” I said. “And besides, Smurfs have blue skin and wear white hats. I have white skin and blue hair. Kinda the opposite.”

Everyone had already started eating while I’d been fucking with my hair, but Mom had made sure there was enough food left for me. I thanked her for that before I took a bite of her Swedish meatballs. Jessica started telling stories about Corey and Jackson that made everyone laugh, and soon there were tales being shared back and forth. I didn’t mind raucous times like these. There was something different. I probably enjoyed it because we were sitting and eating at the same time as talking. No one was running around or screaming at the top of their lungs. Not even the little kids, who were well immersed in either dessert or dreams by that point.

As I listened, I waited for my chance to tell my parents that Philip was on his way, but one story seemed to bleed into another. I figured I’d eventually get floor time after everyone else got full.

“I was thinking you kids could help your old man in the garage before you leave. We need to sort through some of this junk and decide what we can get rid of. Same thing goes with the basement.”

“What for?” asked Jen.

“After Jackson graduates in June, we’re putting the house up on the market.”

“And moving where?” I asked, and I could hear the displeasure in my voice.

“Calvin,” my mom said as she reached out to touch my hand. She squeezed it like she used to do when I was upset as a little boy. If I was honest, I was upset now too. “Dad’s getting tired of the commute, so we’re going to buy a house in the city.” Her face told a different story, though.

“Which city?” Jessica smartly asked. “Mankato, I assume.”

Dad scrunched his mouth up funny and then wiped it with a napkin. “No. I took a position at Winona State.”

“What?” sounded around the table, and I had no idea who’d said it aside from me, but I guessed it was everyone.

“This is home,” I said, stunned and sad. Voices agreed around me. “This is…. But this is our house. Are you saying this is the last everything we’re going to spend here? That was my last Christmas here? A few days from now is going to be my last New Year’s?” I felt tears stinging behind my eyes, but I fought them back.

I’d done a hell of a lot of bitching, both internally and externally, the last few days. If I would’ve known this was going to be the last time, I would’ve appreciated everything more. Dammit!

“You’ve all moved out and on. Jackson will be in college next year, and none of you really want this house. Trust me. None of you want to live in a town this small either.”

Mom was right. No one was going to be living in Blue Earth or anywhere near. Everyone but Jackson had moved either to Mankato or to one of the outlying southern suburbs of the Twin Cities. I was the one who’d gone farthest for college and even decided to settle down farthest from home, though the heart of Minneapolis was still pretty close.

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