Children at the Window TEASER

MEREDITH BLOOM

 

“Mama?”

“Yes, baby?” I answered.

The suds and water, cleaning dishes, this was therapeutic to me. Something about the quiet rush of the faucet water, the clean porcelain dishes, a full stomach, it all soothed me. It wasn’t until the third dish that I realized Caleb never responded.

“Caleb?” I called out, a half-soaked dish still in my hand.

I shut the water off and listened to the quiet of the house – too quiet, I thought. It only meant one thing. Caleb was up to something and probably nothing good.

“Caleb?” I called out again.

I wiped my wet hands with a dishtowel and left the kitchen – calling out for my seven year old son as I searched the home. A distant, yet muffled, giggle alerted me to where he was.
“Caleb, I can hear you and I know you’re up to something,” I called up to the stairs, where I heard him on the second floor.

The front door slammed, startling me. When I spun around to see what it was, Caleb stood in front of the door, kicking off his dusty boots.

“Caleb?”

“Yes, mommy?”

“Where were you?”

“Outside.”
“But I just heard you. You called out for me.”

“No, I didn’t,” he said while putting his ear-buds into his ears.

I plucked one out, annoyed. “Caleb, don’t play games.”

“You said I could play after I took the trash out.”

“That’s not what I meant.” A knocking at the door interrupted our conversation. “Ok, can you at least see who’s at the door?”

Caleb tilted his head quizzically. “Huh?”

“Can you answer the door?”

He shrugged and opened the door, then stepped aside to let me see behind the screen door.

All I could do was scratch my head. I stepped outside quickly and looked up and down the street, then walked quickly to the sides of our house. When I returned, Caleb was standing in the threshold.

“Caleb, this isn’t funny,” I said.

“I didn’t do anything.”

“You heard the knocking on the door, didn’t you?”

“I think you’re losing your mind,” Caleb laughed.

“You didn’t hear the knocking?” I refused to let this go. It wasn’t like him to play jokes on people, but seven year olds weren’t exactly predictable.

“Nope.” He stuck the earbud back in his ear and I knew that’s all I’d get from him.

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