Grandpa Cranwinkle trudged in the door with the last of our bags. I’d packed reasonable, just one large suitcase and my carryon bag. Rory had two small suitcases, and Suz apparently had tried to pack the entire house into the two largest suitcases our family owned. She also had a weighty carryon. I’m sure the baggage handlers were cursing under their breath when they loaded her things.
“Okay, children, let’s get you moved in,” Grandpa said, taking my bag and heading upstairs.
We followed him. As I ascended the steps and saw the burgundy and cream vertically striped wallpaper, I noticed photos that hung on the stairway. Were these family of mine? Their faces looked unfamiliar, except when we got to the top, I saw one of my mother. She had to have been in her early teens and wore clothing similar to what Grandpa was wearing. Mother was standing on the ground beside a horse. She held its head by two long strap-looking things. Had she ever mentioned being around a horse to us? I didn’t recall. Was this why Rory was interested in horses? I figured I’d find out eventually.
Grandpa stopped at the first door at the top of the stairs. We stood on a wide landing that somewhat doubled as a hall. There was deep dark wood paneling on the bottom of the wall and the burgundy and cream wallpaper carried on its motif up here. He opened it and went in. “Rory, Jonah, this is your room.”
“We have to share?” Rory said, disdain in his voice.
“I’m afraid so. At least until we can get another bedroom painted and ready…We weren’t exactly expecting long-term company.”
“We weren’t expecting to be sent away from our home,” Suz replied. “We were quite happy where we were.”
“I’m sure you were…Unfortunately, life changed which cards you were dealt.”
Suz folded her arms across her chest. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Grandpa reached in and turned on the light. “It means that your life is now changed and you’re stuck with it.”
“What about the cards?” Rory asked.
“Yes, Grandpa, you said cards. What about them?”
“That was figuratively speaking.”
I almost wanted to laugh. Yes, I love my brother dearly, but his naivety about the world was almost too much. Rory seriously needed lessons on how real life played out. Maybe this would enlighten him.
Our room was nothing fancy. There was white wallpaper with blue flowers, the window treatments were lacy white, and the spread on the bed was similar to the wallpaper. The floor was wood. It seemed lacking in the comfort department. A dark wooden dresser and a trunk were the only other fixtures in the room.
I looked around for a closet. “Grandpa?”
“Does this room have a closet?”
“No. I’m afraid you’ll have to put your clothes up in the attic.”
His statement caught me off-guard. “What?!” It was bad enough that I was being forced to share a room with my little brother, but to keep our clothes in another part of the house; that was downright odd.
“It might only be for a month or so. Just until we can get another room ready and then find a wardrobe for this room.”
Grandpa brought his arms out away from his sides, stretched them wide, and then moved them above his head as if to describe something large. “A wardrobe is a large cabinet where you can keep clothing.”
“What about a closet? Doesn’t this house have them?”
“Very few. This house is over one hundred years old…Actually, getting closer to two-hundred.”
“I bet it’s full of bugs!” Suz said. She’d been keeping quiet as us boys were introduced to our living quarters.
“This is a farm, there are bugs here, and snakes, and rodents like mice and rats.” Grandpa replied nonchalantly. “This is not sterile city living.”
“I hate them all!”
“You’ll get used to them.”
I nudged Rory and we went and brought in our bags. Somehow we’d have to share this small room and put aside our sibling rivalry so we didn’t inflict bodily harm on one another. At home we were blessed with separate rooms, which was a good thing since we didn’t always get along.
“I’ll leave you boys to get unpacked. What you can’t fit in the drawers, I’ll help you with in the attic tomorrow. Dinner will be ready shortly.” He went to the door. “Come, Suzette, I’ll show you to your room.”
I heard them go down the hall. A few moments later, a loud protest came from Suzette. It was clear she didn’t like her living arrangements. I wasn’t too keen on mine, but Grandpa said it was only temporary. Let’s hope so.