by Andrea Marcusa
Once a woman awoke from a nap and found herself floating on a mattress near the shore where her house once stood. All she had left was her water- soaked handbag and the clothes on her back.
The woman was widowed, and her children had moved away long ago. She set out to look for them, in hopes of finding shelter. She boarded a train and settled into a seat by the window. When the conductor collected her ticket, he said her saw her house four stops away. “Get off at Marshaven, take Shore Road to the end.”
“I’m headed that way too,” said a nearby passenger with a bandaged face. Some of the gauze was discolored a yellowish-brown. Under other circumstances, the woman would have tried to help the wounded man. But today, she felt disinclined and slid closer to the window.
At Marshaven, she taxied to the water’s edge. There stood her home, freshly painted yellow. Pink and white petunias lined window boxes. The blue swing set stood in the yard.
She hurried towards her house, eager to relax at her kitchen table with a cup of tea. Footsteps sounded behind her. She looked back and saw the man. His head bandage was now so soaked reddish-yellow that she had to look away.
“Your home’s still on the trolley. Look.” He pointed and she saw a flatbed and wheels were wedged under her house. The man opened the truck door it was hitched to. “Thieves been stealing old houses like yours during storms. Good money. Mine’s still missing. Let me help you.” His eyes were a startling blue and shined like stars.
The man started the motor, paused, and pointed to her calf. “You’re getting Lost Wounds like me.” Although she hadn’t felt anything, her calf was shedding skin. “Happens when you lose things you cherish.”
Each fleck she saw fall frightened her.
“Yours are still superficial. Without a home, they deepen.” He pushed his bandages away exposing a red, angry sore on his cheek. “One year.”
She recoiled but then stopped herself. His smile felt warm, familiar. He seemed to sense her anguish without her saying a word. She caught his glance; sunlight flooded her face. “Go inside. Reclaim your precious home.”
At her front steps, her Tabby cat, Malcom, greeted her. She seized him, held him to her face.
Suddenly, the house began to roll. She looked toward the truck cab; the man’s arm dangled from the window. He waved, she smiled and leaned on the arm rail to steady herself. The woman had no idea where they were headed, but she was back in her home, her pantry was full just as she’d left it, and Malcom rested in her arms, purring. Her calf would heal; it looked better already. She couldn’t tell the depth of the man’s wounds or how or where he’d find his way home. But this was a start.
She waved, he grinned. Maybe the hitch would hold.