Mrs. Rhonda’s Family

Three

Part One, Part Two

I grabbed a box of tissues to wipe off the layers of dust clinging to all the photographs. Mrs. Rhonda was in the kitchen whistling and banging dishes.

I had to guess which pictures were the oldest on my own. So far it wasn’t hard. At the top of the pile were a bunch of Jordan and John. Her sons hadn’t paid much attention to me on the days I came over, but I could still see them wrestling in the yard, knocking into the fence, or getting in trouble for throwing a football across the living room couch. They didn’t seem to understand that they were enormous. Mrs. Rhonda was always yelling “Calm down!” or “You gonna make a mess in here and then see what happens!”

I also found a few pictures of Mrs. Rhonda’s husband. I only knew it was him because the man looked like the one in a framed picture that was sitting on a tiny table by the front window. Except in these photos he was as big as a house. He had thick, round muscles and fuzzy round ball of black hair around his head.

I wanted to ask her about her husband because she had never said a word about him. And I had never asked before because I was little and didn’t care back then. So I wiped off the photo and climbed over the boxes to meet her in the kitchen.

When I made it to the doorway her back was to me, wide and taking over almost the entire width of the stove in front of her. Something sweet and chocolatey filled the air, and it felt like a relief after being nose deep in musty photographs.

As I was about to call to her because she was too engrossed in cooking to notice me, my eyes swept the room and I stopped. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I gasped a little and started inching backward without even knowing it. My heart raced and my free hand went to my mouth. And the whole time Mrs. Rhonda just stood there, whistling.