Robert sat idling in the parking lot, waiting for his wife and nephews to finish their costume shopping at Riley’s Trick shop. It had been years since he had been back in Bremen Towne. Not much had changed. The storefronts were the same, except for the few that were now vacant. Wondering how long the shops had been closed, he began rolling up his window. Hovering clouds were competing with the very late fall sun, taking its warmth possibly for the last time of the year. Just before the window shut out the cool breeze, he heard faint music that brought his attention to the sidewalk. Standing in front of Big Bear Sports and Archery with My Shorona blaring through a Walkman, Robert saw what couldn’t be. Getting off of his golden ten speed with his headband and matching Adidas sweatshirt was a nearly forgotten teenage face. The song, the bike, and his friend flooded his senses with memories of drinking from hoses, swimming in over-chlorinated pools and biking all day until the streetlights came on.
They sang the song they knew so well, the dimness of the candle flame illuminating each family member’s false smile. As the moment came, the veil of joy was quickly replaced with undisguised fear as they all watched Toby blow out the candles. He blew at the waxen wicks as if his life depended on it. His father closed his eyes and wished that when he opened them again, he would see nothing, but darkness and his family would be spared from another visit. Before he could lift his eyelids, he knew the result by the sound of his wife’s desperate scream. Feeling her grasp his arm, he quietly whispered, “No, it can’t be, not again.”
Barbara pulled into the neighborhood and instantly felt out of place. The houses were all much too large, and the lots were more than twice the size she was used to seeing. Amongst the multicolored leaf strewn lawns, she drove down the winding road glancing at her GPS. The house that she was fooling herself that they could afford was less than a quarter of a mile away. Passing what could easily be described as a manor, it was well over six thousand square feet. She almost turned around feeling overwhelmed. As she rounded the corner, she saw the house from the listing. It was perfect in every way. The tall, gabbled roof stood three stories in the air, giving the cottage home a look of elegance amongst the perfectly manicured lawn. As she pulled into the horseshoe driveway, the GPS made an odd beeping noise she had never heard before, and the screen flashed ‘Wrong Address’ repeatedly. She hit the large X on the digital display, canceling the navigation. Hers was the only car, assuming she beat the real estate agent there, she pulled up the listing. It would be the fourth time she viewed it today, but still wasn’t tired of it.
He didn’t have any definitive evidence however he knew the tree moved. It was not possible for a tree that stood over two stories high and having a base more than four feet in diameter to move however this one did. Since moving into the farmhouse a week ago every afternoon he sat on the back porch and sketched the entrance to the forest in his Moleskine sketch pad. Stephen now reviewing his sketch would say with some confidence that the tree moved precisely four feet to it’s right. Prone to fantastical thought he hesitated to tell his wife and once he saw her reaction, he immediately wished he hadn’t. Without words he could hear the word relapse come from her. She was always supportive and understanding of his fluctuating mental health, it’s why they moved away from the city with the hope that the new scenery would help alleviate some of the stress and allow him to focus on finally getting his anxiety and delusions under control.