The 1977, brown Cadillac climbs the hill, already narrow from the cars parked on either side of the street; the space made more confined by the girth of the steel box in which I ride.
We pass the green house, on the right, with the sidewalk buckled from the root of an oak tree. As we approach Gram’s house with shrubs running the length of the exterior, the engine slows from a quick hum to a low grumble. This is where my dad lives now. Sometimes he isn’t here, but Grandma always is.
The car pulls to the curb and I climb out onto the small patch of grass between the street and the sidewalk. I bound toward the concrete steps, my hand grazing the sticker-bush that is hanging over the wrought iron handrail. I reach the wooden porch and the gray, peeling paint crunches beneath my feet.
I knock on the thick wood door and peek through the glass window that frames it. I hear the grandfather clock chiming 3:00. Dong…dong…dong.
Gram’s wrinkled hand grabs the key from the its perch and she greets me. As I walk across the shaggy, orange carpet, I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the full-length mirror on the closet door.
I collapse onto the green and white floral love seat and we spend the next hour watching M*A*S*H reruns on the console television that sits in the corner. My dad comes home. My cousins and I shoot rubberbands behind the TV where they pile upon others, covered in dust, which have gathered from one year to the next. At 5:00, two of us go outside, walking over the buckled sidewalk and down the hill to the pizza shop where we have a standing Thursday order.
After dinner, I sit on the porch and watch cars go by. I climb a tree, but only if she isn’t looking. I smell the rose bush in the corner of the backyard, next to the chain-link fence. I shoot baskets on the hoop that hangs on the garage next to the alley. My cousin and I walk a few blocks to a mulberry tree where we gorge on fresh fruit until our hands are purple and our bellies are full.
Upon our return, I go inside and climb the steps to the landing where I look out the window into the neighbor’s yard. I go into Gram’s bedroom and smoothly slide open her top, left dresser drawer.
I remove tiny Avon lipstick samples and look into her mirror while applying a deep red shade to my mouth. I purse my lips together, then rub the top one to its mate and wiggle them around until I am certain they’re evenly coated. I blot them on a tissue and make a popping sound.
I climb over the stair railing and slide down on my stomach to the living room; my ride hastened by the thick layer of wax atop the wood. After settling back onto the love seat, I lay my head against the flat, gold pillow. My eyelids grow heavy and I doze off as the baseball game plays in the background. Johnny Bench is at bat.
I wake to the sound of a car horn blaring. My mom doesn’t come to the door. I stumble to put my shoes on, then cross the room to where Gram is sitting in her corner of the sofa, under the bright light of the table lamp. I kiss her soft cheek.
As the grandfather clock chimes 9:00, I head outside, down the concrete steps with a quick one-two rhythm, then I open the heavy car door. I hear crickets chirping in the bushes.
I climb inside and the car turns the corner as it leaves one home for another.