White Picket Fence

There’s a long driveway that runs along the side of a blue house with a sunlit porch and a white picket fence. My car’s in the driveway and I’m on the porch, sitting in a chair with my legs crossed, looking out over the lawn. I take a sip from my plastic cup and watch the water stream down from the hose, the droplets catching bits of sunlight as they fall, shimmering, onto the blades of grass.
Demarquis turns off the hose and climbs onto the wine barrel painted like a football that’s taking up the left side of the porch. It looks odd up against the blue and white house, but then again there aren’t many places where a giant wooden football wouldn’t look odd. For some reason, I don’t even wonder what a wine barrel is doing on their front porch, let alone why it’s painted like a football. Eric’s sitting in the chair to my left, sipping his cup, also looking at the barrel.
“I think we should keep it,” he says.
“We can’t keep it out front,” says Demarquis.
“We can put it in the back, use it as a table.”
“Yeah, maybe put some bar stools around it.”
“We’ll have to paint it,” says Eric. “None of us are even into football.”
We’re silent as we watch the sun slip behind the apartment building across the street. Plunged into shadow, the temperature on the porch plummets and I’m grateful for the Ugg boots on my feet. Ugg boots that some girl had left at their old apartment months ago and forgotten about. Since they fit me perfectly and the boys weren’t planning on seeing her again, we figured the boots were better off serving their intended purpose than acting as a hallway accessory.
A truck pulls up in the driveway behind my car and Tommy gets out.
“I see you’re trying to start World War III,” he says, nodding to the full driveway. I assume I’m parked in one of the neighbors’ spots and they aren’t going to be very happy about it when they come home. I wonder if I should offer to move my car but no one seems very concerned about the possibility of war, and anyway, there aren’t any spots on the street.
Tommy finishes unloading his truck and walks onto the porch. Apparently just off work, he’s in a suit and tie with a black binder under his arm that says Gallo Family on the cover. That sort of explains the wine barrel. He looks at Demarquis sitting on it and laughs.
“We’re thinking about keeping it,” says Demarquis.
“Getting some chairs and using it as a table,” says Eric.
Tommy laughs again. “I’ll ask my boss. It’s too late to use it for Super Bowl but he’s thinking of painting it pink and selling it for Valentine’s Day. I’m trying to convince him it’s not worth it.”
They continue to discuss the possibilities of the giant wooden football. I look at the three of them and for a moment I’m in another place and time, trying to match a memory, a series of similar images, to the one in front of me. But that was a year ago, on a balcony terrace instead of a front porch, on slouching couches instead of rough chairs and a wine barrel. Back then we were enclosed by a black metal railing and walls on three sides, and now we’re out in the open on a raised platform with nothing but a white picket fence between us and everything else. Still sipping drinks, still talking about nothing. Still us, but not. I wonder how it’s possible for people to be at home and utterly out of place at the same time.
I finish my drink and pull my feet up, hugging my knees to my chest. I wriggle my toes into their new wooly soles, look over at my friends on their new porch, at their comically obtrusive new piece of furniture. Just a jumble of assorted things and people finding new homes.



6 thoughts on “White Picket Fence

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