I expected gloom and doom and spiderwebs or wood paneled walls at least. Instead, light filtered down from a large window over the front door, diffusing the arrow straight hallway in a soft, colorless glow. Shoes made a line against the wall next to the door; I dropped my sandals to the hardwood next to a pair of red faded Converses, scattering sand. The rank of pipe smoke blew through the screen door, mixing with the pepper and lemongrass scent of the house. The hardwood cool on my sun-warmed feet, my skin grinding on the bits of sand, I walked down the hallway. Doors striped with peeling paint, closed, led off on either side.
It let out at the kitchen–a close, shaded room–where a man stood at the sink with his back to me. An iPhone slipped in the back pocket of his cargo shorts played a 50s jazz song, more reminiscent of a basement bar than the stretch of sand and sky I could see through the window over his shoulder.
He fussed at something in the sink. I side stepped to see. Long-stemmed flowers filled the sink. By the open bag of fertilizer on its side on the counter, he was doing a spot of gardening.
I swallowed hard, my throat dry. “Dad?”
His shoulders jerked and he half turned, hands still in the sink. His expression spread in surprise. “Lisle?” He extricated himself from the flowers, shaking soil across the green-tiled countertops. “You’re here early! I wasn’t expecting you until 3!”
I raised my eyebrows. “It is 3.”
The rag he’d grabbed to wipe his hands stilled. He looked to the clock over the gas stove. “So it is. Time flies. Well, good! You’re here!” He spread his hands excitedly, towel flapping. “How are you? How’s your mom?”
From his phone, a trumpet joined the double bass and drums. “Dead,” I said. “Thanks for asking.”
“That’s alright, we’ll get you sorted in a jif. How about lemonade?”
I told you you shouldn’t deadpan, my brother whispered in my ear. Should you point out you meant Mom?
Dad flung open the refrigerator door–a mint green, bulbous leftover from the 50s–and pulled out a pitcher of cotton candy pink lemonade, slices of lemon floating around the bottom. It didn’t seem to matter that I hadn’t answered as he pulled two tumblers down from a cabinet and filled one, handed it to me with a small smile, then the other.
The chilled glass froze my fingertips. Ice coated my belly. I’d dreaded the pity and the figuring out how to mourn with a stranger over someone we’d both known. I hadn’t expected this. Why did I have to be the breaker of bad news?
The trumpet solo wound down and it must’ve reached the end of the playlist, because there was silence.
“If you don’t want lemonade…” he said. I looked up at him. He didn’t finish, just made a vague gesture with his glass. I saw my brother in the set of his shoulders as he leaned against the counter, his free hand braced behind him.
Tell him, my brother said.
I held the glass back out to him. “I have to tell you something.”
Day two’s prompt is cotton candy / lemonade / window
I like the idea of continuing with the same story through each day’s prompt. So for the scene immediately before this one, check out yesterday’s post.
Despite how little sleep I got last night and the busy day I had, I think I managed to do pretty well with this. That I got it done at all is enough for me, because it was one of those days where it would’ve been so much easier to put it off until tomorrow.
Tomorrow’s prompt is bookstore / morning / ice cream
If you’d like to join me in my 30 Day Restart Challenge, check out the prompt list here