Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
by Kimberly Carrero
The new family in town gets an invitation to an unusual dinner party.
I was three-and-a-half years old when I said goodbye to my small house on the small hill and the burrowing owls across the street. I was three-and-a-half years old when I said hello to my new big house on the big yard with the otters in the pond. I fell in love immediately. There was so much room to play around and there were so many animals outside to discover. I was and still am an animal lover and my new home was perfect for me. At my old house, there were a lot of dairy farms but they were slowly being overwhelmed by people and the industrialization that comes with them. From time to time I go back and visit my old house, and every time, I am greeted with a new housing complex or a shopping plaza. I am really happy that I moved to a neighborhood that hasn’t changed in the last fourteen years. The trees are still tall; the roads are still made of dirt, and the people still ride around on horses. I never realized that I lived in the country.
“Welcome to the neighborhood!” A man with white hair stepped out of a white truck. My father, with his black hair, went out and introduced himself to the man who lived in the blue house left from the sign with the two black arrows. But he was not alone. I watched from the moving truck as two kids and a lady holding a baby also stepped out of the truck; they all had sandy brown hair.
“I’m Kevin, and this is my wife, Terry.”
“Hi, I’m Terry.” The wife said.
“My oldest son, Cameron.” A young boy my age stepped forward enough to be seen. “My daughter, Kylie.” The girl looked at me quietly and waved. “And my youngest son, Christopher.” The baby slept uninterrupted.
My dad introduced himself and me, and then the family from down the street and around the corner left. The rest of the day was spent unpacking the moving truck and placing things where they will belong for the rest of time.
A few days passed before I saw our new neighbors again, but when I did, I wished I was back at my old house where people lived in normal houses and ate normal dinners and led normal lives.
The white truck pulled into our drive way on a bright sunny day and I remember being very excited to have the chance to play with Cameron and Kylie; my father told me that the boy was only a few months older than me and the girl was only a year younger than me, but instead it was the white-haired man and his sandy-haired wife, Terry.
“Daddy, the neighbors are here!” I called through the house as I watched the approaching people through the glass front door. Both of my parents came to the door just as Kevin and Terry reached the front porch. My mom and dad opened the front door.
“Hello, Kevin, Terry.” My dad shook the other man’s hand, and my mom smiled at the woman.
“Hello. We have come to invite you over for dinner tonight.”
“Oh really, that might be nice.”
I hid behind the couch, listening intently to the grown-up voices. The TV was on, but I tuned it out to a whizzing static.
“What are you going to be cooking?” my mom’s sweet voice asked.
“Well it has to be cooked today, so I apologize for the short notice.”
“What is it?” My dad inquired.
“A hog?” The surprise was evident in both of my parent’s voices.
“Did you shoot it yourself?” my dad added, curious.
“No, actually we found it on the side of the road. I think it was hit early this morning because it wasn’t bloated yet and it doesn’t smell,” Kevin explained.
“Yes, we already have it cooking; that way the meat wouldn’t go bad.” Terry smiled.
When I heard this, I craned my neck to see over the back of the couch. I may have only been a few weeks away from turning four, but I knew what roadkill was. I was immediately captured by my mom’s cherry cheeks, her blood blooming up towards the surface of her skin. I thought about how hot they would feel. My dad had kept his emotions a little more controlled, but I saw his jaw go a little slack.
“Well, we might be able to go, but I will have to check with my cousin. She and her family live over in Jupiter Farms and have been asking for us to come over.” My dad’s voice was tight and his tongue sounded sloppy in his mouth.
“Are you sure? The hog is huge, and our house is always welcome to guests.” Terry was all smiles.
“Yeah, we just moved from Broward County and we hardly ever got to see Lanny’s family since they lived so far north.” My mom patted my dad’s shoulder almost sympathetically.
“Oh, okay, that’s fine. I’m sure there will be many more opportunities to have dinner together in the years to come.” Kevin began turning towards the door.
“Yeah, maybe sometime next week.” My dad’s voice was back to its easygoing self.
“Thank you for the invite, though; that was really kind of you.” My mom smiled; the blood in her cheeks had retreated and her skin was back to its normal color.
“Of course! You’re welcome to come over if plans with your cousin don’t work out.” Kevin addressed my dad.
“Sure, sounds good.” My dad walked them to the door and watched as they stepped into their white truck and drove off. When he returned to my mother’s side, I just barely caught a glimpse of their surprised, almost sick, faces before they moved behind a wall and out of my sight. I turned forward and continued watching TV. I had moved to the country, and people here ate dead animals that had lost their lives to speeding vehicles. What a strange new world.