By Sara Malott
This wasn’t the first time she had seen the man pacing in her front yard. He had been sleeping beneath her bushes for the past week but she had yet to muster the courage to go out and talk to him. Usually she would see him laying in the grass or picking up the fallen leaves. Yesterday when she looked out her window she saw him pacing. Watching him was entertaining so she sat by her window and stared at the peculiar man. He would start at the mailbox and make his way to the first garage, then he’d turn and walk right back to where he started. Today as soon as she woke up she peeked out her bedroom window and, surely enough, he was pacing again.
She stood and watched for a while but then something strange happened. After having paced from the garage to the mailbox fifty-two times already this morning he stopped and turned to look straight at her front door. He stopped and glared for a minute, but then started the long journey up her sidewalk. Once he reached the maroon colored entryway he sat down on her porch facing the door. He raised his left hand and rapped his knuckles three times against the lower half of her front door. She debated for quite sometime about whether or not opening her door to a complete stranger was a safe choice, but decided after all that it might be worth knowing a man who has been living under her bushes like a wild raccoon for an extended period of time.
When she opened the door, she didn’t give the cross-legged man on her porch any time to react.
“Is there something particularly interesting to you about my front lawn?”
When she questioned him she didn’t make eye contact.
The man took a few moments to collect himself, then stood in front of the lady at the door. The top of her head just barely reached his shoulder.
“Look,” he said, “I’m not from around here and I need a place to crash. Is there any chance that you have a sofa I could occupy for a few days?”
She paused and turned around to look back at her living room. It was all decorated with her Thanksgiving figurines for her parents who weren’t even coming over this year. She inhaled and then slowly turned around to look the man in the eye.
“I guess you can stay, but just for a few days.”
As soon as she finished her sentence he hopped up and ran back out to the bushes with a huge grin on his face. He came back with a small bag slung over his back and a musty pillow.
“Thank you so much ma’am. I promise it’ll just be a few days.”
A tea kettle was warming up on the stove. She walked over and sat at the at the dining room table. She’d given him a warm pillow and blanket and let him use the shower while she threw his old pillow out in the trash. He smelled fresh now and looked like a different man than she had seen earlier in the week. His hair was long and full like the mane of a lion.
“So what brought you to my house anyway?” She asked while pouring herself a cup of earl grey.
He kicked his shoes off and pulled the blanket up over his chest. He rested his head on the pillow and looked up at the tiled ceiling.
“I don’t know. You just seemed like you might enjoy some company.”
“Why were you pacing back and forth so much out there?”
“I wasn’t sure about whether or not I should come in. I guess I just got cold feet.”
She had so many more things to ask the mysterious man but before she could form her thoughts into an actual question he closed his eyes and went to sleep.
That night in her dreams she saw a boy. The boy was her son and she called him Wilson. They laughed and they danced. The watched his favorite cartoons and ate mint chocolate chip ice cream on the old couch. The boy didn’t talk but he never stopped smiling. He liked dancing and he liked the couch, but he loved her. She tucked him in and kissed his forehead. The dream ended and and she woke up to a beautiful Thanksgiving sunrise.
This year was her first Thanksgiving alone. Her disappointment hung in the air like a fog. She brewed a pot of coffee and made herself an egg. She set out for the living room with mug in hand but she stopped when she saw the boy. He sat cross-legged on the couch where she’d left the ditzy old man the night before. He threw his arms around her and embraced her trembling body. He grinned as he cuddled up under her arm.
She dashed to the bathroom in hopes that it was just a part of the dream, that there wasn’t anything wrong with her. She soaked her face with the water flowing from the faucet but nothing happened. She placed a hand on each side of the sink and looked into the mirror but to her surprise her reflection was interrupted by a bright orange slip of paper. She ripped it down to read what appeared to be a message scratched across the front.
“Thank you so much for letting me stay. I’ll have moved on to another home by the time you are reading this. I hope you don’t mind but I have welcomed another guest into your home for a while. His name is Wilson and I know he will be safe in your hands. Happy holidays.”