Laura and Mary got dressed quickly. Pa requested an Uber, and they went out in the cold snow to wait. When the car arrived, Pa hooked up the cart for them to ride in, and took pillowcases and wrapped them around the potatoes Ma had warmed in the microwave, and Pa put them on the floor of the cart so their feet would stay warm on their journey. Then they went away from the little house in the suburbs.
All day the storm lasted. Firelight danced out of the bin Pa used to burn the extra wood from the wagon, and Jack the brindle bulldog and Black Susan the cat lay blinking at the flickering flames. Pa cleaned his gun and played the fiddle. When the fiddle had stopped singing Laura called out softly, “What was that song, Pa?”
“It is a tune about a simple life, Laura,” Pa said. “Go to sleep, now.”
But Laura lay awake in the Memory Foam bed a little while, listening to Pa’s fiddle and to the sounds of the show room floor, until a man came and said they had to put out the fire and they could not sleep there. Pa asked if the beds were not for use, and the man said that they were not.
“Jerusalem Crickets, this is a humdinger! I’m hungry as a wolf!” Pa rubbed his hand through his beard. His whiskers were wild.
Ma sighed softly, and said “A whole night gone on just one bookshelf, Charles. The children are exhausted and the animals must be fed.”
But Pa’s cheeks were red and his eyes were fevered. He laughed mightily and played his fiddle while Ma reread the instructions from IKEA. Laura saw the tears in Ma’s eyes and was afraid, for Ma hardly ever cried.
Pa stared at the fire. “I do not want you to worry Caroline.” Ma sat very still and listened. “We will have all we need through the winter. Amazon has promised one day delivery, and I have seen the provisions available, and the prices are good.”
Ma went back to her stitching. “I know, Charles. I just worry they will not have the gingham on Prime.”
“Caroline, do not worry. They have almost everything on Prime. They are sure to have your gingham.’”
All day Pa walked around the yard setting traps along the fence. The neighbors paid him little mind. That night dinner was only small, sweet cakes of corn with blackberries and honey. “We will have meat soon enough Caroline, and furs for me to sell on Etsy. The traps should grab plenty of muskrats, foxes, mink, beavers, and maybe even a little pussy or two. When you are free you can do whatever you want, and cat fur will raise a pretty penny.”
“That machine’s a wonderful invention. America is great again, Laura!” Pa’s blue eyes were bright as he held up the screen for her to see. “Other folks can stick to old-fashioned ways if they want to, but I’m all for progress. I’m going to have a machine for Caroline to blend my fruit in, and a juicer for her to squeeze my lemonade in the summer. You can sell some of the lemonade, and make a bit of money. Then you could buy a suckling pig with it if you want to. You could slaughter the pig when it is grown, and clean it, and we will fill its bladder with air for you and Mary to play with.”
One day they met a Mexican on their walk. Pa and he stopped and stared at each other a moment, but they could not speak because they did not know each other’s words. After they had moved on Ma shuddered and said, “I do not understand how you can stomach it Charles, they make me so afraid.”
“Caroline,” Pa replied, “There is nothing to fear. White men will take these neighborhoods as they please, that is only common sense.” He leaned down to Laura and tugged her braid ‘Isn’t that right, pipsqueak?"
“I do not understand, Pa. Don’t we bring them here to work? If we do not want them here, why are they allowed to come?”
“Taco trucks, Laura. You’ll understand more when you are grown.”
Laura sat on the steps outside and waited for Pa to get done talking to the rough-looking men. She tried not to listen to their stories. They frightened her. That night, Ma sang her an extra song at bedtime. “Ma,” Laura whispered after she had finished. “What is a golden shower?”