Where’s your appointment?
It’s at the tree.
Why do you have to go there?
Because it’s where my appointment is.
Who are you having an appointment with?
It’s an appointment with myself.
But you can’t skip school for that. You’ll make us worry, so don’t do that again. Could you please move your appointment to after school?
* * *
It’s 6:30 pm and he’s still not here. He knows dinner starts at 6.
Now Lydia, quiet down, he’ll be here. He’s a young boy, probably just exploring the backyard.
But George, I wish you’d just worry a little more. It’s getting dark outside.
* * *
I’m trying to write neatly because that’s what mom always told me to do. It’s also good manners to address who you’re talking to. So dear Mom and Dad…
It’s getting colder now so my fingers are sorta frozen. I’m coming I say. The tree waits patiently.
* * *
Honey, let’s eat. You’re being over protective. It’s a new home, let the child enjoy it. Hell I was like that when I was a little boy too.
Lydia sits down rigidly, she caught sight of a swishing tail, tastefully striped in its characteristic faded beige.
Oh no cat, don’t you go begging for table scraps. He rubs against her legs affectionately and purrs.
It crawled away under the Christmas tree.
* * *
The wind is chilly, I really should listen to mom when she tells me to wear a thick coat. If she finds out she will be angry so let’s keep it quiet. My heart feels like it’s burning, she says it’s because I don’t get enough exercise. Another thing I should listen to my mom for. She seems to be always right.
I look at the clock, it’s 5:15. Hurry along now.
My cat jumps up onto the table and nudges my hand. His snout is wet; he’ll be a healthy old thing for life.
I reach out to fulfill his long awaited petting. Yeah kitty, I’m not worried bout you at all. He places a paw, that oddly evokes the smell of raw rice, and rudely pats my face. I giggle. I give him a kiss.
My hands are too cold to write with. But leaving a note about where you are going is good manners.
* * *
It’s 7:00 pm. The sky somehow seems to be gathered by the moon’s radiance, with its long tendrils of light illuminating the under belly of the clouds that reaches for it. But as they coalesce to the center they smother the moon, like a thin silk veil bounding the only stage light.
It is after dinner, left for the lonesome child’s portion on the table. The cat inquisitively jumps up and sniffs around with ease.
Shoo cat, shoo… Oh George, doesn’t the moon scare you tonight?
Out of the darkness that seems someone has tauntingly dimmed the light switch to mess with your eyes, a white roundness with perked ears sits engrossed under the tree. Then a flick of it’s ubiquitous tail, the cat rises to it’s hunch and swabs at the dark.
Here kitty kitty, come here.
But the cat promiscuously rubs itself against the base of the old hemlock. Not in defiance, but in pure animalistic instinct and meows.
Lydia steps onto the porch and grinds on dirt tracked all over the wooden floor boards. Oh George, look!
George hardly glances, not surprised. Ah, probably damn kids in the neighborhood thinking vandalism was a joke. We’ll get down to it tomorrow. Right now, I’m more worried for our child.
No George, look, the writing is familiar. Lydia grips his arm before he proceeds any further, but she’s distraught and far from persuasive so he shrugs her off and marches into their backyard – a forest – marked by the signatory old hemlock that stuck out like a sore thumb just out of reach, forever inducing the yearnings of the naked branches seducing you to join their dark frolicking foliage.
Lydia hurriedly turns on the porch light. Stubbing her toe on the rocking chair and cursing herself.
He comes upon the cat, still persistently swinging his paws at it’s wavering target. George picks him up and scolds in a half-heartedly way. It meows, taking advantage of the higher altitude, fumbling and digging it’s back claws into George’s shirt. George grunts and holds it still.
Lydia stands in the middle of the doorway and reads the message aloud.
George looks up at the dangling feet.
” Dear Mom and Dad,
I had an appointment to meet.
P.S Sorry about the dirt. ”