The Petermans had a red-brown VW pickup truck. It was little. We rode in the pickup truck up to their house. The road was winding, and Nancy was used to driving it.

“Roll down your window, and put your hand out.” She slowed down. Nancy was Randy and Eddie’s mom. She didn’t wear makeup. She wouldn’t let us say we didn’t like something; we were supposed to say “I don’t care for it.” I found this confusing. What would it be like to care for spelt bread?

“If you watch the road, you’ll feel better.”

In the clearing before the house, you saw the pond, which looked like a place you would fish, but I never saw anyone fishing. I pictured Randy as Huck Finn, with a straw of wheat between his teeth, wearing a pair of overalls, holding a green branch with fishing line strung across it. Even though they lived on a farm off the grid, the Petermans were not the kind of people who wore overalls or spoke with Southernish accents.

The house was two stories tall. Randy and Eddie and Laura and I slid down the carpeted stairs on our bottoms. On the wall above the stairs were family photos: the pastor and his wife; their children; their grandchildren: Randy and Eddie and Becky and Sam and Joel. The photos were faded yellow and orange from the sunlight. We were not on the wall above the stairs. The Petermans were my family, and I didn’t understand that I was not theirs.

Our pastor played the saw. His saw was painted with a landscape in oil paints by his wife. He put the handle of the saw between his knees, and he always made the same joke as he was beginning to play; he curved the saw and pulled the bow across it once, as if he were just now discovering that it sounded like music. The saw notes warbled. He whistled along.

The house smelled like warm grains and Lava soap. My sisters and I, when we spent the night, slept in the bedroom with the trundle bed and two west-facing windows. In the hall was a poster of a kid with a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs on his head, crying. We called the boy “Eddie Spaghetti” and we called Eddie “Eddie Spaghetti,” but they were not the same boy. In another bedroom was a secret closet, filled with games and a doll house. We crouched in the closet and played house. We were grownups, and Randy married Laura, and I married Eddie. We had to marry when we grew up. We were the right age, and it was inevitable.

from The Book of Revelation

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