Tag Archives: forest trail photos

The Invitation

Somewhere in the dark hollows of my disoriented sleepy brain, I hear a car door slam.  My eyes adjust to the dim room and I take out my earplugs. What was that?  What time is it?

IMG_NEW

Another slam, and my eyes are wide open.  It’s 5:23pm.  Dusk.  Someone is in the driveway.  Well, okay.  We’re not expecting anyone, but this happens even out in the country.  Deliveries, politicians, clean-cut-polite-young Mormons.  How do they find us?  The Bearded One is downstairs in the deep end of his own late-afternoon autumn nap after working on the road all morning, filling the first potholes of the year.

IMG_NEW

I’ll just peek out the window.  No need to sound the alarm, but I need to check.

I squint through the branches of the cedar tree that hides our bedroom window.  It’s a silver minivan parked at the end of the driveway.  Our old neighbors!  I see Batman circling the van, urging his parents out.

IMG_NEW

We knew they might drop by sometime this week from an errand they had close by.  We invited them.

“They’re here!” I shriek to the Bearded One, but it comes out garbled.  I take the little nightguard out of my mouth, wipe my sleepy spit, and quietly shout “They’re coming up the driveway!”  I slip out of my warm bed and hobble to the bathroom.  I clip my wild hair into a ponytail, and look into the dim mirror. What day is this?

IMG_NEW

The Bearded One moans.  “Whaaaa?”

I bump into the bathroom doorway to holler down to him.  “Hansel, Gretel, and Batman!”

“Huhh?”

“Honey, get up!”

The Bearded One mutters something, but I can tell he is up now because I can hear his belt buckle jangling.

IMG_NEW

I find my socks and slippers, and yank them on as I peek out the window.  “All five of them are in the driveway!” I call out.

We love these kids — ages 9, 7, and 5 — and have missed them since they moved away this past June.  We saw them for the first time in 4 months last week — was that just last week?  They stopped by after Batman’s dentist appointment, and we took them up the trail to Jake and Ruby’s grave.

Trail 2 002

Trail 2 004

Trail 2 009

They marveled at the dark autumn forest, the branches and logs they had earlier hauled to line the edge of the trail, artifacts from ancient times.

I hear the toilet flush downstairs and I know that the Bearded One is functional.  Garfield looks at me from the bed as if I’ve gone insane.

IMG_NEW

That’s when I wonder why I haven’t heard a stampede up the front deck steps, or even voices.  I decide to check their progress one last time before going downstairs.  I look out the window.

No van.  No people.  The driveway is completely empty.  I heard nothing.  This is impossible.

They must have decided we were napping, I think.  One of us is usually outside or in the kitchen and greets them, and they are very thoughtful and know I sometimes take naps, but wow.  It’s like I imagined the whole thing.  I was pretty deep in sleep.

“Sweetheart?”  I’m at the top of the stairs now, staring down at my half-awake husband.  He has one boot on and has just tucked his own wild hair into his hat to greet our friends.

“I’m sooooo sorry,” I say.  “They left.”

“Left?”

“But they were here!” I say.

“A dream?” he says and smiles a little.

He will milk this for days….

IMG_NEW