Editorâ€™s Note: â€œCracks in the Cloudsâ€ is a piece of creative non-fiction. All of the events in the story are true. This is the fourth part of an 8-part series that will run weekly in the Collegianâ€™s Verve section.
Mary pushed her head into the window frame. Her face looked like it was in a shoebox. Her grey hair sat close to her shoulders. Her long stone necklaces touched her waist.
â€œCome in Lucas. Come In. Sure is gloomy out. We just heard you open the gate from the garden. Joan is trying to harvest her onions and they are not coming out as well as we had expected,â€ she said.
She led me into the kitchen.
Her voice continued shaking when she handed me my glass of milk and plate of cookies. â€œHere you are, sweet Lucas,â€ she said.
They were expecting me.
I asked Mary if the milk was whole or 2 percent. She said neither. Staring at me from her wooden rocking chair I ate.
The rocker creaked under her weight. Joan entered the house from the squeaky wooden back door.
She wore blue overalls, brown hiking boots and a red flannel. She turned on the CD player from the den.
She still hadnâ€™t said anything to me since I came in the door. She paced the house; she had run up the spiral staircase and down twice. She washed three plates that were left in the sink with a dirty pink rag and a bar of soap.
She looked out the window for several minutes, gazing at the distant trees and small rock hut that was on the property and had been since they bought it. The U.S. cavalry used it as a station in the late 1800s.
They said they had never been inside.
Joan and Maryâ€™s deep respect for the spirit world kept them from disturbing the hut. Its windows were broken.
She had folded three blanket pelts and laid them upon the backs of their living room chairs. She never changed the expression on her face. Her deep lines showed tension in her face. Her cheeks were still.
Mary rocked and watched me eat the cookies. They were crispy and crumbled in my mouth.
Maryâ€™s hair was knotted and looked like it had been caught in the bathroom drain. Her sweater was lavender; it had three flowers on it and read â€œlove below the daffodilsâ€ in a cursive stitch. Her legs were crossed and eyes squinted.
â€œDid you see anything on the mountain last night Lucas? Any lights or noises?â€ Joan asked, turning her face from the large glass windows in the living room.
â€œJoan, please. We donâ€™t need to be asking him this!â€ Mary said, snarling at Joan from the kitchen stool. The house felt heavy and darker than normal.
â€œItâ€™s not going to hurt. Did you see anything Lucas? Youâ€™re not in trouble,â€ Joan said.
â€œI donâ€™t know. No. I donâ€™t think so. I donâ€™t like to go outside much after dinner. What happened? What are you talking about?â€ I said turning my hips off the stool in preparation to run. I hadnâ€™t done anything wrong the night before. All I had done was breathe.
Staff writer Lucas Dean FiÅ¡er can be reached at email@example.com.