Peter Schmader


Sophia, Do You Remember?

Sophia, do you remember when I was three and I woke up on a hot, sunny Saturday morning in July and teetered out of my room at the end of the hall and called to Mom and Dad and they didn’t answer? And I called to Brother and he didn’t reply?

So I walked to the door to the laundry chute, opened it, and put my head in and called to each once more, sending my voice down the chute all the way to the basement where you were ironing bed sheets, and you heard me?

I thought no one was in the house when I heard no answer. But you were in the house. I had just not known until you called up the chute to me.“I’m here, Petrushka,” you said.

So I went back to my room, to my bed, and pulled the case off the pillow that Grandma Janeska and Mom and Aunt Helen and Aunt Eleanor and Aunt Grace made from feathers they stripped from geese on Sunday afternoons at the long plank table in the kitchen of the farmhouse in Stark County. I took the pillow case to the laundry chute, and the little stool I used for climbing onto my bed. I stood on the stool, dropped my legs over the opening to the chute, reached way in with the pillow case and slipped it over my feet and pulled it up to my waist, then pushed off, sliding down the chute to the basement, where you were.

I flopped out the bottom, feet first, and said, “Boo!”

And you said, “You are not a scary creature, Petrushka.”