Wil watched the murmured conversation between her parents out of the corner of her eye, as she put her father’s beer and her mother’s special milk into the fridge. She noted her mother’s happy, tired smile as he dredged up some anecdote from work. A shadow of happiness reflected in his eyes at her responses.
Wil smiled sadly herself, and stooped to get a pan from the cupboard. As she straightened, she saw Jakob briefly pause in pulling textbooks and papers from his backpack and look toward the couch. He, too, was touched by a glimpse of memory and looked almost kind.
Cynthia coughed, and worry creased itself at the edges of everyone’s short serenity. Wil heard her father rumble a question, putting his hand on her mother’s arm. She nodded, and laid back on the couch. “Thank you, Rob.” She said tiredly.
Wil’s father looked over at Wil to ensure she was getting dinner started, then he straightened and clunked in his heavy work boots to the fridge. He extracted a can, opened it, and took a short gulp as he stood in the open door. Wil saw him sadly shake his head at the nearly bare interior, then close the door.
She studied her father as she opened the soup and poured it into the pan. She had always admired how hard-working he was, despite having a slight build. He also rarely showed anger, though life was serving him so many stressful responsibilities.
She sighed. It was difficult work being a professor of archeology, saving ancient relics from greedy collectors. Wil could hear his boots echoing -not across a kitchen floor, but around the spacious, musty interior of an abandoned temple.
He moves stealthily through cobwebs and shadows. He nearly steps on a trap -but, no! Rob Winters recognizes those carvings just in time and turns quickly away from harm.
He draws closer and closer to the treasure chamber, slits of sunlight panning across this careful explorer and his determined path. He turns a corner and-
*Kuh-huh* *khuh* *khuh!* Wil’s mother’s cough brought Wil’s mind unwillingly back to her apartment kitchen. Just as well, because she had been standing at the counter with the soup can still suspended (now empty) over the pan.
Luckily, Wil’s father and step-brother hadn’t noticed. She slid the soup onto the stove and turned the burner to medium. After tossing the empty can onto the counter, Wil realized her mother was watching her.
“Yes, Mom?” She asked.
Cynthia smiled at Wil and crooked a finger to bring her closer. Wil happily skipped over to her mother’s side, her boot squeaking at every other step. She plunked down on the floor and looked up in anticipation at her mother’s loving face. Cynthia smiled at Wil’s exuberance, one of the few who did.
“I just wanted to hear what adventures you had at the grocery store, Wil.” She encouraged.
Wil looked around carefully, but Jakob was lost in a mathematics problem and her father had gone down the hall. All clear. She cleared her throat.
“Well: the snow danced like crystals and my breath like a cloud.” Wil tried to speak slowly but, as usual, forgot in the excitement of retelling her adventures. “The castle gates opened at my arrival,” she continued, “and I took a curious vehicle to transport my goods in. I wore my regal sash of black with my magic imp boots. My trumpeters lined my way to The Hallway of Doors..”