I don’t rightly remember when this picture was taken, but that’s me all right, sitting on the picnic table. Looks like I knew something was up because I have this serious look on my face and my sister Lucy she’s right up there trying to get in the middle of everything, as usual.
I always thought whenever things went wrong it was because she was trouble, Lucy was. Still is, but I’ve learned that things aren’t always what they seem. Anyways, that’s my Mom before she left and I’d guess from the trees we were still living up in Michigan during the time when Dad was working at the fancy resort on Mackinac Island.
Now that was a fun place for a boy to grow up, a whole big island with a real fort and houses like castles and no cars, just horses everywhere except at night when they’d get the trucks out to wash the streets and pick up the trash and horse poop. Then everything would be all clean again in the morning and the tourists would never know about the night people with the brooms and hoses and all the college kids who’d drink and make out in the bushes.
Mom, though, she hated it up there. We had to live in some little cottage in the middle of the island, back in the trees where there were lots of bugs and the sun never could get to the yard and all we had were pine needles and dirt and rocks. It was always cold in the woods and you could smell the stables where they kept the horses and boys like me thought it was heaven but Mom thought it was a dump and she said so. She said the owners should give better living places to their employees, especially when they ran a big important resort like Dad did.
Finally, she just left and took Lucy with her and said us boys could enjoy it all we wanted but the women weren’t going to live like trolls in the woods and they got on the morning ferry to Mackinac City and then they were gone.
Dad never did talk much about that summer, but he got a job in Detroit at an airport hotel that winter and then Mom and Lucy came back to live with us in the city and our family was all about them and what they wanted, dresses and dance lessons and a shiny new car and a nicer house every couple of years. I don’t remember much about Dad —he was always at work and he was real quiet when he did come home and just sat behind the Free Press, kind of hiding out from Mom, like if she couldn’t see him she wouldn’t yell at him and I stayed up in my room playing records and Mom and Lucy, well, they were showing off all day long and going off to shop or get their hair done or whatever it is that women do when they don’t have anything else to do.
And that’s the way I remember it: me and Dad just hanging out in the house, him behind the newspaper and me in my room and Mom and Lucy out spending money and showing off all the stuff they bought and acting like our family was all happy and fun. I felt like I did on that island: during the day when the sun was out everybody put on a show for the people who were passing through. During the night, though, was when the work got done and real life happened and visitors never knew it and the next day everything was all cleaned up and perfect as that picture you found.
Writing prompt: Patricia McNair