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  • corneliusmary

Who’s There?

The fam enjoyed a wonderful dinner on Memorial Day, spent the afternoon playing Tripoley, and finished with bowls of homemade ice cream before retreating into respective corners. It was the first block of time with the boys since the school term ended.

Teens’s summer schedules are far different from those of my generation. Blue Boy will move into an apartment off-campus in Tucson this summer. Apartments no longer have nine or three-month leases: they are one year. It behooves him to move to Tucson in July and look for work near campus. Meanwhile, he will take summer school classes online. Mowgli will help with chores at church and look for part-time work to extend into the school year. We say ‘summer,’ but students are back at school the first week in August.

The boys hunker down in their rooms most of the time, Blue Boy gaming and Mowgli . . .? Occasionally, I spot laundry molding in the washer begging for a warm respite in the dryer. My peripheral vision catches young male apparitions, sporadically manifesting as one of the boys at the table or stovetop. Eerie utterances affirm that these are real people. Is someone dancing, wrestling, moving furniture upstairs? The phantom noises deter me from leaving the ground floor.

The strongest evidence of the boys’ presence is the kitchen. As I go to bed at night, teacup in hand, I take a moment to revel in the satisfaction that all is right with the world. The kitchen is clean and closed for the night—dishwasher running, counters spotless and clear, towels neatly hung, lights dim—and everyone is safely tucked into bed, or their games and movies.

In the morning, I lumber to that same kitchen to prepare my coffee. My eyes take in the state of my domain: the stab of annoyance is countered by the awareness that these sights stand in for my beloved grandsons, and I want to cherish them—dirty dishes piled on the counter next to the sink, air fryer pans stacked among cooking utensils draining in the dish rack, crumbs scattered evenly on the counter onto the stovetop and across to the island.

Yes, the boys are home. Someday they won’t be. The kitchen will never be dirty. There will be no apparitions or ghostly sounds. All will be clean and quiet. Yes, the boys are home: I will enjoy a dirty kitchen.  

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