Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2014 - Page 23

Letitia Trent | 23

The falling snow muffled the usual winter sounds: frozen tree branches exploding, snow sliding from the roof in sheets, cold birds landing on their porch rails, pecking at the icy feed she left them. She listened for the bear and heard nothing.

Rarr, Rarr, Mommy. The little brother held a picture up to her face as the Mother stared forward, bobbing her tea bag in the water. It was only breakfast (jam and toast), but already the Mother was worried about dinner. Tonight they would have chickpeas and the last of the bread. A pauper’s meal. The older brother hadn’t spoken to her since the day before. It took the younger boy a full minute of yelling, of thrusting his picture into her hands, practically into her tea, before she noticed him.

What is it, honey? He climbed into her lap. She pushed her tea away and made room for his picture. He spread it out with his hands, careful not to run them across the middle, where all of the figures were clustered, a thick margin of white all around them. He pointed to a scribble of brown. This is the bear. He pointed to a blue square with a triangle on top, a snake of black scribbles emitting from its roof. This is our house, he said, pointing to the square. The scribbles were smoke coming from a chimney. They didn’t have a chimney. The Mother wondered where children learned about chimneys and why every child’s picture of a house had one.

Where are you?

The boy pointed to the house. I’m in the house, looking out the window. And in one window, the Mother could see two black dots for eyes and a smile, both uncontained by the boundaries of a face.

And where are Mommy and your brother? He pointed to the house. You’re inside making cocoa, he said. He pushed his finger against the drawn door, as if to open it and find her.

And where is your brother? She asked again. The boy put his fingers in his mouth. He studied the picture.

He's behind the bear. Hiding behind the bear. He pointed to the brown squiggle.

Won’t he be cold, out there in the snow?

He shook his head. He has hair. He’s hairy. He’s wearing shoes too. The boy slid from her lap and took the picture with him.

Do you know what I'm gonna draw next?