by Paul Weidknecht
She hadn’t gotten there just yet, but Michelle knew it wouldn’t be long before she had her Wandering Deer Estates home, that Buck Ridge Terrace address. The timeline was anyone’s guess, but until then she would stay with the plan, let it play out, maybe visit the construction site a few more times. And now, it was in this soothing confidence that she stood in the doorway of her tiny kitchen watching the mess unfold without being all that angry.
Still, she wondered why they all had to prepare their lunches at the same time. It was as if a buzzer had sounded the start of a contest and the first to create something that resembled food was the winner. Skyler and Tyler, the teen and ‘tween, had begun work on an impossibly large mixed salad, much bigger than both of them could ever finish; while Don, off from the warehouse this Saturday, had thrown a handful of chips along side a tuna sandwich he’d put together. She peeked past Don’s sandwich to the countertop, then shot him a look, the meaning of which was lost in the bustle. A puddle of oil from the tuna and a tablespoon of diced onions glistened back, spread in a foot and a half swath across the counter. She sighed. Without a doubt, her next kitchen would be immense, spectacular; it would be a Wandering Deer kitchen.
Don looked down at the sock-footed three-year-old, Kyler, padding across the kitchen floor with a juice box in his hand.
“How come you got the kid dressed like a rat?” Don asked through a mouthful of sandwich.
Michelle would let that one go for now. Don had seen her in the back room night after night for weeks, cutting patterns and sewing together panels of material. He’d seen Kyler cajoled from his morning cartoons and bowl of dry Cheerios, marched in for alteration after alteration so the garment would fit like a second skin. Anyone with half a brain could see this child was not dressed like a rat.
“A weasel. We’re going to Shady Birch to visit Suzanna,” she said.
“It’s weasels now? Three months ago it was dogs, before that, cockatiels.”
“Yeah, I know. A while back a group of eighth graders from the middle school visited the home with several animals. Animal therapy. This time Suzanna really seems locked in on weasels. She’s got several pictures around her room, on the dresser, by her bed. She’s also asked me for a subscription to Weasel Quarterly, so I got her one. I figure it’s an investment.” *** Read on! ***