Small TV with antennae. Saturday morning cartoons. Cowboys and Indians. Roy Rogers. Gene Autry. Black and white. Shorts and a halter tops. Annie Oakley hat. Cheerios with spoons full of sugar. No more snoring in bedroom, but not quiet either. Door stays closed. Steel skates and saddle shoes by front door, but key is missing. No pliers in the utility drawer.
Outside, fog rolling in from ocean. Face misted with salt. Nose cold, damp. Palm fronds drip, grass glistens. Sidewalk waits. Shiver.
Skates idle on porch. Neighbor’s bicycle, locked. Chili-boy’s tricycle has no third wheel. Bare feet pad down the cold walkway between the apartment buildings. The street is filled with parked cars. Nothing moves. Quiet. Very quiet. Wait. Down the hill, the surf barely riffles. One step, two steps, down that hill. Pebble jars left foot. Cry out. Car drives by. A whisk of air. Rock slapped from heel. The hill declines.
The sun pokes through gray, dries the air. Deep breaths. Nose itches. A small street crossed, the beach a block away. Freedom. Pleasure. Smiles. Another street to dare. Cars going fast, no crosswalk. The ocean thumps the beach somewhere down below. Indecision. Doubt. Has the bedroom door opened yet? Is the bowl of milk still on the floor in front of the TV? Move ahead or turn around? Cars go by. Someone honks.
The hill is steep. The sun pours down. Sweat beads. Breath struggles in and out. A boy with red hair waves from a car window, sticks out his tongue. Sun glints off the bumper. The trudge goes on, sidewalk warming under bare feet.
At the apartment door, Mom’s in her nightgown. Behind her, dad’s in his underwear. No one is smiling.
Yet. Yet. Yet.