So this story idea got the voices talking, and of course they started talking – maybe because I asked them too – at about 5am this morning, when I didn’t want to get up.
so here’s what I remember
Joey could be called John, and maybe he’s a John Joseph or Joseph John but not a Johny or a JJ – at least not at this moment.
His mother, Heather (maybe) is an art teacher at the nearest high school. They live on a hill surrounded by woods, which was fairy land back in the day. There’s a stream. Heather is also a witch, and she became a witch to fight off the fairies – who are not as benevolent as one would like. They stole her husband. She knows her husband is still alive because she gets money from some fund that he was related to and one of the stipulations in the letter that came with the first check was that she was to not get involved with anyone else. She believes her husband did not leave her willingly, but is caught up in some fairy thing. But some days she thinks maybe he did leave willingly – and she’s having trouble not being mad. She can be faithful – she hasn’t really met anyone, except another teacher at school but that’s work and work affairs never work out. And it is a small town, definitely rural situation, so everyone knows everyone else and she does not want to be the source of gossip any more than she has been. She’ll do anything for her son.
She knows where Joey goes in the forest – mostly. His father built him a treehouse/fort when he was twelve, right before he disappeared. So Joey has gone there a lot to deal with his father’s absence. But that was seven years ago. Why a boy of 19 still goes to hang out in a treehouse is kind of beyond her comprehension – but he seems okay, not too depressed, so she leaves it.
It’s afternoon, about three pm, and Heather goes down to the treehouse, walking through the field first and then into the woods and downhill toward the stream. The treehouse looks a little worn and overgrown, with the tree’s suckers making it look bushy.
Joey, are you in there?
His head appeared around the edge of the plywood.
Your boss called; you’re late.
She could tell from his suddenly wide eyes that he’d forgotten the time.
He ducked back behind the plywood
Yeah. She heard his voice, sort of muffled.
You need this job so you can go to school. [Joey works as a stock clerk and back-up cashier at Staples or some such]
I know mom, was his muffled reply.
What are you doing?
He poked his head out again. Putting my stuff away.
Are you working on something? Let me see.
He held up an art pad that had, from her distance, a landscape on it.
When are you going to show your art to people? When you go to school you will have to show it. You should get practice now.
The picture and her son disappeared back into the fort.
In the fort, it was crawling room only, basically enough room for Joey and his model to sit, and for his art supplies to be scattered about. His model, still in her pose, smiled.
Sorry, sweet flower, he said as he carefully laid a piece of wax paper over the picture, I have to go. Can we do this again tomorrow?
He gathered up his things and put a waterproof canvas tarp over the pile. The model slowly faded into the tree trunk, leaving just a hint of pollen floating in the air.
He climbed down the now short ladder and jumped across the stream to meet his mother.
Where are your supplies?
I put them under a tarp.
A wet painting?
Pastel, he answered, showing her his colorful hands.
They started walking up the hill.
I told your boss that you were having car trouble and that you’d get there when you could. So try to remember that.
He stopped. His mother, who had always told him to be truthful, had lied for him.
What? she turned to look back at him.
He shook off the shock and said, thanks. With my car, he’d believe that.
Oh your car just needs a bath and an oil change.
She always wanted things clean. His room, his car, his body. He smiled.
They reached the field just as a minivan pulled into the driveway.
Oh there’s Katie for her piano lesson.
She reached up and kissed him on the cheek and told him to have a good day, and turned to great the neighbors from the bottom of the hill.
Joey watched her for a moment, absently rubbing his hands on his jeans, leaving streaks of blue and yellow.