This story is by Iyana Assan and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
This is a bittersweet day. I am moving into a lovely Townhouse, but leaving my home of forty years is difficult. Most of the house had been emptied. There was only one room left. I had saved this one for last because I knew it would be the most difficult to do. Not because it had more items, but because it held the most precious memories. It was the room that had started out as the nursey. It wasn’t the sewing machine or craft containers that held the memories. It wasn’t even the cherry wood rocking chair or the little cherry wood table, it was the mural that my ex-husband and I had painted on the wall that held those memories. I walk over to the rocking chair and sit down. We had never painted over the mural, and now the new owners asked us to leave it. As I rock back and forth, I gaze at the mural. Forty years disappear and the memories flood over me.
We had just bought our first home. My husband and I had lived in an apartment during our first year of marriage, then with relatives to save for a home of our own. We had finished moving our furniture in and now we stood admiring the beautiful house. It was a new home. The tract had just been built in Sunny Mead, Ca. My husband, Charles, was stationed at March Air Force Base. Now that we had a home we were planning on starting our family. We had already chosen the room that would be the nursey. It was a small room off of the master bedroom. There were two slightly larger rooms that would later become our two children’s rooms. But, for now we were concentrating on the nursey, we wanted to make it a space that our children would always remember. We decided to paint a mural of our favorite cartoon and fairy tale characters on all three walls. Charles was the artist, he would draw the characters, and I would color them. We spent hours in the room and when it was finished it was truly a work of art. Some of my fondest moments were spent in that room, one day in particular stands out.
Tarik is 21/2 years, and Nyisha is 6 months old. I have just finished feeding them, well feeding Nyisha, and helping Tarik, who insists on feeding himself these days, which is why bath time always come after breakfast. Tarik usually ends up with more oatmeal on him than in him, and Nyisha even at 6 months wanted to do what her brother did, so I would allow her to pick the spoon up and aim for her small mouth, needless to say, the food most times did not hit the target. After bathing my sweet babies and they no longer looked like little oatmeal monsters, we head to our favorite room in the small apartment, the nursey.
The nursey was something out of a home decorating magazine. My mother had gone all out, there had been no babies in our immediate family since me. My older brother had a son, but they lived in Denver, and we had not met him yet, so everyone went for broke on my first baby. All of the furniture was cherry wood, the crib, the dresser drawers which doubled as a changing table, and the rocking chair. Not much else could fit in the small room but, when Nyisha came along, Tarik graduated to a little cherry wood toddler bed and somehow everything worked together beautifully. The quilts on both beds had been made by my husband’s grandmother and were pieces of art. They were colorful renditions of her childhood. She had even used some fabric from garments she had kept from her early years. One of my aunts knew of my love for books and had bought a small cherry wood bookcase and stocked it with collections of Miss Piggle Wiggle and other children’s books. All of those things were great, and each piece of furniture and bedding held precious memories, but the best part of my babies’ room was the 3D mural.
Looney Tunes, Disney, and fairy tale, characters frolicked together over rolling hills, creating a fantastical wonder. As the three of us entered the beautiful world of fantasy, I lay my babies together in the little toddler bed and raise the safety rails, and pick up their favorite book, The Three Little Pigs. They loved the story because I huffed and puffed and blew the house down. I was barely past the first animated huff and puff before I heard the soft sleep breathing coming from their precious little mouths in unison. Tarik had his small brown arm across his little sister, protecting her. I rocked back and forth, watching my sleepy babies.
I turn my gaze to the wall of fantasy, and Jack and Jill throw me kisses while sliding down the hill, not to be outdone, Mickey and Minnie danced the do-ci-do for me. Minnie’s skirt flared exposing her red and white polka dot pantaloons making me laugh, the tinkling of my laughter stopped Sylvester from chasing Tweetie Bird, they both turned and waved to me. The children who lived in the shoe jumped up and down, pushing and shoving each other to get my attention as children will do. Little Bo Peep and Mary brought their lambs for me to inspect and admire. I watched and enjoyed all of the lively characters showing off for me.
I don’t know how long I stayed in the world of fantasy before the sound of my babies waking lured me back to reality. As I rise to tend to my babies, I feel something pricking my toe. I look down and lift my foot and there lay a red bow with white polka dots. I look at the mural, a smile lights on my face as I notice that Minnie is missing one of her hair bows.
“Mom!” Tarik’s voice pulls me back to the present. He is standing in the doorway,
“Where were you? I called you several times. A penny for your thoughts.”
Nyisha walks up behind her brother, putting her arm across his shoulders and interjects, “These days a penny won’t get you much, so a dollar for your thoughts,”
I reach into my pocket and run my hand over the little red bow with white polka dots. I smile at my two babies, “There is no amount that could buy these thoughts, they are priceless.”