The crazy house floats by every third Tuesday in the month of May. My little sister calls it “Castle,” but there’s no drawbridge, no narrow slits for arrows, no murder holes for burning oil. My mother thinks it’s like a patchwork quilt made up of doors and windows. I guess they’re both a little nuts. Women. That’s what dad would say.
We stay up late the night before, watching out the window. “I don’t want to miss it,” my sister whispers, and I always answer, “It comes at noon,” but she insists that schedules change and I suppose she’s right. If the night is clear, we count the stars and lace them into pictures. If it’s cloudy, we make up stories about kids who outsmart dragons, principals, and witches.
When dawn peaks past the shoulder of the hills, my sister grabs her crayons, rose and gold and orange. She tells me it’s the annunciation. I don’t think she knows exactly what that means. I’m not sure how a house could save us.
It always pauses in the valley, rotates, so you can study every side. I’m looking for the door that fronts the green-copper balcony, the one with sixteen window panes exactly. I’m sure you’ve seen it. There’s a brick arch right above it, like a half-way halo.
I’m waiting for that door to open. I wonder if the hinges creak. I don’t know if a floating crazy house need maintenance, if it requires dusting cloths, small cans of oil, screwdrivers, or mops. I see the handles, black and narrow, and I can feel them in my dreams, the cold line against my palm.
Sometimes new entrances appear and old ones vanish. Everybody has a favorite. My sister likes the double oaks flanked by Grecian columns. Our neighbor, Mr. Collins, is partial to a dormer window buried in the eaves. I watch my mother, and I know she fancies the fourth floor entrance sprayed with glitter, framed in unicorns and rainbows. I don’t know about my father. He’s been gone for years.
I imagine him behind those dark glass doors, the ones that should be clear, but aren’t. I imagine that he’s waiting there, hand poised upon the handle. Every third Tuesday in the month of May. I’m sure the latch just jams or the key skitters through a mouse hole where he cannot reach it. The crazy house floats off, and my father has to wait another year for a chance at . . . what? A resurrection or redemption or just a simple, “sorry.”
My sister completes her drawing of the dawn. Sometimes she rubs the crayon too hard and the paper rips and then she cries and I have to fetch the tape. I fix it. I don’t argue with her when she squeals, “The Castle’s coming!” I let her imagine. I let her color an annunciation. I don’t ask her what it means.
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