The afternoon was quiet. The clouds gathered like cotton in the fields outside my window, and my mind walked each row picking memories by hand before losing them again beneath the mist. Somewhere downstairs the boys were planting memories of their own and scattering them without caution or regard for the blossom.
The day had escaped between trips to school and back again. There had been errands to run, deadlines to meet, and a lack of focus for any one thing. It was the gentle decline of holidays done, and getting back into the grove of normalcy was a slow spin for all of us.
Chores were ignored and piled uncomfortably throughout the house. Carpets needed vacuuming, dishes needed washing, and clothes needed folding, all of which were the responsibility of two little boys that fought responsibility like it was the vanguard of a zombie apocalypse. I lacked the strength to convince them otherwise.
Every morning started the same and today had been no different; the drive to school was filled with plans for the afternoon, all of which hinged upon completion of the chores they were assigned. Promises were made, kisses given, and the day unfolded like the fillings of our wardrobe: scattered here and there, and severely lacking starch.
Every evening ended the same and tonight would most likely be no different; the promises would not be kept, the piles would grow, and the chores would roll down them like a stone: fast, furious, and gathering no moss.
Suddenly a noise bounced up the stairs and pulled me back from the fields. It was something soft and unknown, and it gave a little whistle. I investigated immediately.
I passed my youngest son, spread as he was across sofa and afternoon television, and he did not even glance my way as I followed the mystery ringing louder in my ears. The sound increased with my every step, like a waterfall growing nearer from a place once distant, and judging by a lack of his presence in the living room, my oldest son was wadding in it.
Then I turned the corner and nearly fell faint. I clutched my heart like a Redd Foxx rerun, pressed my back against the hallway, and warred on two fronts, one to fight back tears and the other a battle for breath. I stood there for a moment and I collected myself as best as I could, then I leaned back into the doorway, the camera app open on my iPhone, and caught the thing I once thought uncatchable. My son, without so much as a gentle reminder, was washing the dishes of his own accord, and sunlight was breaking fresh across the brow.
We put our plans to action.