A Room on Lorelei Street

Mary E. Pearson

Henry Holt and Co.

A ROOM ON LORELEI STREET (Chapter One)

It used to be a house.

You could almost have called it pretty.

She stares at chain-link threaded with weeds, a few of them blooming. Her vision blurs on white petals and regains focus on a patch of lawn the fence holds in--or what might have been a lawn once. She can't remember that it has ever been green but knows it once was more than the dusty stubble it is now. She thinks about the rough texture between her toes, running across it, barefoot, with the hot Texas sun pressing down from above and a cool, lazy sprinkler refreshing from below. She remembers a six-year-old girl whose laughter came easy. She remembers but wonders, Was it ever really that way?

No pretense is made of throwing out a sprinkler now. It is not a house anymore. She knows that. The only life is in the weeds that live in the protection of the chain-link.

She throws down her cigarette and mashes it on the sidewalk, kicking it over with a pile of a dozen others. She breathes out one last, smoke-filled breath and almost smiles. There is still a little pretense left. She slips a peppermint into her mouth and lifts the latch of the gate. It groans, low and heavy, whispering, Don't go in. Don't go in.

But she does.

A ROOM ON LORELEI STREET Copyright © 2005 by Mary E. Pearson.