Windows   by Suzanne Nielson

Terry Milhouse lived three doors down from me and rode a stolen Schwinn he’d painted purple with a permanent marking pen.  From a distance the bike glowed gorgeous as he peddled faster than any car along the uneven pavement.  
    The Fulbright triplets across the street nicknamed him Terrify, most likely due to the welts on their limbs from the crab apples Terry pulled from his pockets and pitched 78 MPH.  Agnes Loring, an only child, and an unusually dedicated entrepreneur, gathered the crab apples and sold them on the corner of Ruth and Margaret streets for a nickel each until Galen Anthony ate so many he had to have his stomach pumped, at least that’s what his mom told us, in the emergency room of St. John’s Hospital where my mom went for her nervous breakdowns.  
    Mom’s room was on the third floor, and every other evening I got to see her by sneaking up the fire escape and timing it so Rob Milhouse, Terry’s older brother who worked as an orderly, would unlock the door and let me in while making his 7:40 p.m. rounds.  
    Bouquets of dandelions, bright yellow and smelling tart, made her smile.  The stems leaked white milk, and mom said that made for the best wine.  I don’t know if she had time to make wine while in the hospital or not, but for two days they sat in a white Styrofoam cup on her windowsill until I brought her more.  “Yellow is my favorite color Winsted,” my mom would say each time I’d leave.  Then she’d curl up in a ball, face the bouquet and hum You Are My Sunshine.
    On a Tuesday night after visiting my mom Terry met me at the bottom of the fire escape with his flashlight.  He beamed it at the third floor windowsill silhouetting the bouquet that already had wilted.  I rode on his handlebars home past Fulbrights where we screamed, “crap, crap crap,” at the picture window where the triplets religious bobbing shadows claimed self-righteous courage by genuflecting.