This is the only house I’ve ever known. My parents bought it before I was born. I hope we never move.
It’s big – three storeys, including the attic – and brick, with a thick front door made of oak, dark green trim around the windows and real, old slate on the roof. But that’s way, way up. I’m more interested in the front lawn, where my Dad sometimes parks his car (when he does, I tell the passers-by that that’s my Daddy’s car), and the back garden.
I like to sit in the back garden with the cats, under the branches of the huge mulberry tree. There, I feel protected by the tall, grey fences that run down both sides and the garage at the far end. Flowery vines wind their way up the front of the garage and there is a rockery in front of it, with little flowers spilling over the stones. A magnolia blossoms to one side. Beside the garage there is a little area with a large sandbox and a gate out onto the laneway beyond. I like to dig in the sandbox, but so do the cats.
I live here with my parents and sometimes my Great Aunt, when she comes into the city on the big, green tripple-decker train. She takes care of me while they are at work or when they go out. There is a small bed up in the attic that she sleeps in on the nights they stay out really late. I like to wake up in the morning and find that she’s still here.
My room is at the top of the stairs on the second floor, and my parents have a bigger room just down the hall, toward the big, sunny family room that overlooks the front lawn and the busy street.
I can hear all the city sounds from inside but they blend together until I don’t notice them. I do notice when the trains go by, though. They shake the house and they make my door rattle.
The walls and ceilings and doors in the house are white and the floors are a dark, polished wood. They smell of floor polish if I get right down close to them.
There is fuzzy beige carpet on the stairs. I like to sit halfway down the stairs and look through the dark, wooden rungs, or run my fingers along the polished banister. From here, I can see the Chinese dragon painting that hangs above the door leading into the front vestibule. The glass on the door is frosted with a fleurs-de-lys pattern etched across its surface.
I can also see the living room and the dining room. I like their fireplaces; they have tile hearths and fancy mantles with mirrors on top. We never use the living room fireplace, but in the winter, we sometimes light a fire in the dining room.
I can’t quite see the kitchen from the stairs, but I know it’s just around the corner. There’s a heavy white door with a brass push-plate that swings open into the kitchen, or hangs closed, or sometimes swings back against the hallway wall, blocking the stairs to the basement. I know I have to be careful not to catch my fingers between the swinging door and the wall.
The kitchen floor, like the vestibule floor, is tiled a chocolate brown colour. There are lots of neat things in the kitchen; big baskets up high on top of the white cupboards, copper jello moulds and green ceramic measuring pitchers, an island on wheels in the centre of the room with a chopping block across its top, and jars full of dried fruits. There is a stool, too. It’s pretty high but I like to sit on it with my back against the window frame, and watch my Mom or my Great Aunt cook.
On summer evenings, I lie in my white crib with the bedroom window open onto the back yard. I listen to my parents’ voices drifting up from the patio as I watch the peachy sunset light dance between the shadows of the leaves on the bumpy white wall, just past the crib’s white bars. I wish I could stay awake long enough to sit out there and talk and laugh, rather than having to stay in bed, trying to go to sleep.
I have some toys in my crib with me and the rest of them are lined up on shelves facing my bed. I remember my Mom putting them up on the shelves but that must have been a long time ago.
Sometimes I get tired of being in my crib and then I stand up and bounce and call out. That’s what I’m doing right now. I’m supposed to be napping, but I’m not tired anymore. My Great Aunt is talking on the red phone down the hall. She’s just out of sight, which means she can’t see me, either. I would like to be down the hall with her, not in my crib. I have no more sleepiness left in me today.
Maybe if I stand on my tippy-toes I will be able to climb up and over, and then I will be out.
I did it; I’m out!
She’s coming now. I can hear her saying goodbye to the person on the phone. She knows what I did. She heard the thud and she heard me say “ouch.”
I hope I won’t be in too much trouble.