“Here, colour in these spots for your boxes.” Ellen placed a sheet of round, white stickers in front of her daughter Janet and handed her a pink marker. “It’s your favourite colour.” Janet ignored her. “We’ll be nearer Nana’s.”
“I want to stay with my friends.”
“Bibi wants to go, don’t you, Bibi?” Ellen made the doll’s head nod and Janet flashed her an exasperated look.
“You’ll be moving schools in September anyway, darling… You’ll make new friends… It’s for Dad’s work — we have to go… Whatever colour you like then, sweetie.” Ellen made to kiss Janet’s forehead and got an ear. “It’ll be better, you’ll see.” She closed the door softly on her way out.
At least Tony and Carl were too young to get all upset about the move, Ellen thought as she drew a rough floor-plan of the new house from memory. Lounge, dining room, kitchen, utility, playroom. Upstairs: master bedroom with ensuite, Janet’s room, boys’ room, bathroom, office, den. Of course the den would have to become a bedroom one day but they had plans for an extension. Garage, shed – there. She put a different coloured ‘dot’ into each area to identify the furniture and boxes that should end up in that room. The Movers had always found her ID system very useful and it made unpacking at the other end so much easier.
Ellen stood in the middle of the lounge and took a moment remembering all the birthdays, Christmases; quiet times spent chatting with her husband, watching TV, games with the children. She looked at this accumulation of boxes. So few really… They carried dots for living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom.
‘Just put white spots on anything that’s for clearing,’ Janet had said. ‘No need to colour them in. And don’t worry about a thing, Mum — Jerry and I will be here and we’ll arrange everything, right?’
And this was it — moving time. Tony had phoned from New Zealand, just checking she was all right. Carl’s wife had phoned from Seattle, said they’d visit in the spring — bring the twins to see her.
At the tiny flat that was to be her new home, Ellen waited as Janet and Jerry carried the last of her possessions in off the van.
“What’s wrong, Mum?” asked Janet. “We’ve already put your photos on the walls, see? We’ll be closer than at the old house… Anyway, it was too big you know… Think how easy this will be to clean…” She kissed Ellen on the head, “It’ll be better, you’ll see,” and went to make a nice cup of tea.
But Ellen couldn’t help thinking… Next time, just one box. One dot. Black.
Oonah V Joslin is Managing Editor at Every Day Poets. Credits include 3 Micro Horror prizes, an honorable mention in The binnacles Shorts Poetry comp 2009, Inclusion in several anthologies, A Man of Few Words, The Best of Every Day Fiction 2008 and Two and Toe Tags. Read her at Static Movement, The Shine Journal, A View From Here, The Ranfurly Review 10FLASH Quarterly and many other places. Other work including her Novella, A Genie in a Jam, can be found at Bewildering Stories. The list is updated in The Vaults at Parallel Oonahverse and on her Facebook. Oonah’s ambition is to have a book published.