Bobby recoiled as something shattered against the wall's other side; Dad must’ve finally thrown the vase like he’d been threatening. Mom screeched, and hurled guttural insults at him; scuffling followed, but before Bobby could decipher what they were doing, Rose tugged his sleeve.
“Come on, get away from there,” she whispered, gently pulling him away. “You don’t need to listen to that.”
“But I wanna hear,” he whined, though made sure to whisper, too. He half-heartedly wished to tell his sister there was no need--his parents wouldn’t even notice if a war started outside while they fought--but knew it’d be wiser to stay quiet; it was never smart to make Dad angrier.
“No, you don’t,” Rose sighed, guiding him to his bed and sitting him down. “It’s just… stupid stuff, garbage. Nothing you wanna hear. Trust me.” She sighed again, glanced at the wall––something heavy toppled, rumbling the floor––then rolled her eyes and walked to her bed.
“But what if…” Bobby's brow furrowed.
“But what if what?” Rose asked as she sat on her mattress, sliding back to sit cross-legged.
Bobby chewed his lip; it was an important question, and needed to be phrased correctly. “What if he hurts her?”
“Don’t be stupid. He’s not gonna hurt her, he’s just… he’s drunk, that’s all.” Something broke next door; Dad screamed and swore. Rose scoffed, rolling her eyes again. “Just try to go to sleep, ok?” she sighed as she laid on her side, turning her back to Bobby.
Rose irritably exhaled. “But what, Bobby?”
“What if he gets like he did at Christmas?” Bobby’s lip quivered as tells welled in his eyes. A door slammed somewhere in the house.
Rose heard his fear, and rolled over to face him. “Hey,” she gently crooned, “this isn’t like that, ok? That was… that was different.”
“But he was drunk then, too!” Bobby sniffled.
“Shh,” she shushed, placing a finger to her lips. Bobby clasped a hand over his mouth, eyes widening with nervous guilt; he glanced at the wall, anxious his parents had heard, but muffled arguing resumed in a distant room. He took his hand away and blinked rapidly, wiping away the few tears that suddenly fell.
“Christmas was a different situation, ok? He was just… He was really angry then. Aunt Lynette was getting under his skin all week, and he was still upset about that bonus–”
“He’s always angry,” Bobby grumbled, pouting as he crossed his arms.
Rose opened her mouth to retort, but after a moment, closed it and just sighed again; there wasn’t really any way to argue against that––Dad was always angry. She studied Bobby, heartbroken over his scared suffering; he flinched whenever something clattered in the distance, and she could tell by the worry in his eyes, it’d be a while before he’d be able to sleep. Truthfully, she doubted she’d be able to, either; the clamorous bickering was clearly going to continue for some time, and despite her and Bobby’s familiarity with the noise, it was never easy to disregard. It’d be up to her to help alleviate Bobby’s distress tonight, like so many other nights, but how?
It'd been effortless when he was younger; a bedtime story, or lullaby, told while holding the frightened child, always worked to soothe Bobby into a peaceful slumber. She’d cradle him, rocking his cries away until he drifted off, blissfully unaware of the squabbling. But Bobby was seven now, and already too aware of the reality of his environment; every day, she sensed it becoming harder for him to ignore the bitter truths of the hand he’d been dealt––a story just wouldn’t be enough anymore.
She fretted over what to do to distract him, and anxiously scanned the room, desperately searching for anything to aid her; her eyes landed on the window. Between her bed and his, moonlight bathed its unwashed panes, stained with years of fingerprints and dust, and bird droppings on the outside; the light entered the room at an angle, beaming onto Bobby’s bed but not hers. She eyed the glowing glass, and in the shining panes, found inspiration.
“Hey,” she whispered, smiling mischievously as Bobby's concerned gaze locked onto hers. She nodded at the window. “I know you’re not supposed to tell, but any of your wishes from that thing ever come true?”
His brow furrowed again, though now with confusion. “Huh?”
“You know,” she prodded, feigning understanding, “the wishes you’ve made when you look into it. It’s ok, I totally know about it. I use it all the time, too.”
“What?” Bobby looked around, mouth agape as he tried to understand.
“You know, the window,” she said, pointing to clarify. “It’s not a secret, everybody knows all about it.”
He looked between her and the window, jaw still hanging. “What?” he repeated, lip curling from perplexity.
Rose giggled and shook her head. “Come on, you don’t have to act dumb with me. I’m serious, I already know all about it. Like I said, I use it all the time, I really do.”
“What are you talking about?” He barely maintained a whisper in his desire to relieve his bewilderment.
“Wait,” Rose drawled, pretending similar confusion. “Do you really not know about the window?”
He squinted at the glittering glass. “What about the window?” he hesitantly inquired.
Now Rose’s jaw dropped. “You seriously don’t know?” She quickly sat up, staring at him with shock.
“Know what?” He suddenly seemed close to tears again, and Rose knew he felt at fault for his ignorance; she couldn’t let the act––or suspense––build anymore.
“That window,” she dramatically started, smiling as she pointed at it again, “is magic.”
“Magic?” he repeated, guilt replaced with doubt. “Magic how?” he questioned with a skeptical smirk; Rose was practically a grown-up, and he was dubious of a grown-up’s ability to understand magic's rich complexities––kid’s got it, but grown-ups… they were pretty ignorant.
“Well, I don’t really know it works,” she began, and Bobby scoffed; he’d expected as much. “But,” she continued, narrowing her gaze, “I do know that it works. You just gotta… You gotta know the right way to use it.”
“Oh yeah? And what’s the right way?” He studied his cuticles nonchalantly.
“I can tell you don’t believe me.” Rose slid out of bed and crossed to him, extending a hand. “Here. I’ll show you.
Bobby sighed, but grabbed her hand and let her help him out of bed. She held his shoulders and guided him towards the window. “Look,” she said, gesturing at the shining glass. “What do you see?”
“I see outside,” he said flatly, shrugging.
“Ok, yeah, but that’s ‘cause you haven’t wished anything yet. So you know how, like, birthday wishes, or a genie’s lamp, or a leprechaun’s pot of gold, when you get three–”
“You rub the lamp, the genie pops out, you get three wishes, you find the leprechaun’s pot of gold, he gives you whatever you want,” Bobby disinterestedly extrapolated for her, smugly nodding as he listed the basic magical facts. “Yeah, yeah, everybody knows that stuff. You’re saying if I rub the window I’ll get three wishes?” He could hardly contain a chortle.
“No,” she said, ignoring his skepticism, “it doesn’t work like that. It’s a completely different type of magic. It’s more about… Well, maybe it’s just easier if I show you.”
The house shook as another scuffle broke out somewhere; muted yells reached their room. “Uh, should we go check and make sure they’re–” Bobby pensively started.
“You see how the moonlight shines on the glass?” Rose pressed on, mildly turning his head back towards the window. She drew a line in the condensation. “And when you run a finger over it, how the light kinda glows a little different where you touched it?”
“Yeah,” he tentatively agreed.
“Ok, well something special happens when you do that on this window. When the moon hits it just right, and you draw on it, and wish for something you want to see, it comes to life. It’s not like the lamp or pot of gold, ‘cause it doesn’t give you something, it can’t give you a bunch of money or toys or anything like that, it’s just… Well, here.”
She grabbed his hand, formed it into a fist, leaving his index stretched, then moved it to the window. “Draw something, anything, then wish for something you really wanna see.”
“Like what?” He looked up at her uncertainly.
Dad roared, matching Mom’s reciprocated volume and ferocity as they traded insults; objects smashed and exploded as they engaged in another throwing match. Bobby’s hand fell from the window, and he reflexively moved closer towards his sister, but she lightly grabbed his hand and replaced his finger against the glass. She reached under his chin, and tenderly tilted his head back.
“Wish for something that makes you feel better,” she said, staring into his fearful eyes. “Whenever you’re feeling bad, or sad, or scared, or even angry, just come to this window, in the moonlight, and wish for something to make it all go away. Whatever it is, just wish it, it can be whatever you want. Don’t worry if it’s silly, or unreal, or… Just wish for it, ok? And if you really believe in it, really believe in it… you’ll see it. Ok?”
The house rattled again, but Bobby kept his eyes locked onto Rose’s, and after a moment, calmly nodded. He looked at the window, inhaled and exhaled, then drew on the glass; Rose couldn’t recognize it––lines came off in every direction that were either limbs or hair, or both––but the assuredness with which Bobby drew led her to believe he was quite confident in its design.
When he was done, he let his arm fall to his side, then leaned back against his sister. She placed her hands onto his shoulders once again, and gave them a loving squeeze. “Good job,” she told him.
“Thanks,” he humbly replied, smiling while she embraced him and kissed his temple. She kept her arms around him as she peered at the mysterious shape. “What is it?” she asked.
He started to reply, but she quickly said, “Wait, wait, you don’t have to say. It’s sort of like the birthday wishes that way, you’re not really supposed to tell anybody what you wished for. But, it’s ok if you tell someone you really love,” she slowly amended, slyly smiling. “Especially if it’s family.”
“Like a big sister?” Bobby smiled, matching her coyness.
“Definitely a big sister,” she laughed, kissing his forehead and tousling his hair. “But it’s ok if you don’t want to tell me,” she added, “I won’t be offended. It won’t change it coming true or anything like that, but it’s very personal for everyone, so sometimes people just wanna… They feel more comfortable keeping it to themselves, y’know?”
“Yeah,” Bobby said, nodding as he looked at his drawing. “I think I know what you mean. I guess…” He frowned. “Wait, you said it was supposed to move.”
Dad wept thunderous apologies as Mom howled and caterwauled, but Rose turned Bobby’s attention back to the window. “Oh, right!” she excitedly said. “I almost forgot! This is the best part. So now you have to really wish for whatever you drew. You gotta stare at the glass, look at the way the moonlight shines on it, and if you wish and hope, really believe… the moon will make it come alive on the glass, and you can watch it move around and… just be. So you gotta really look at it, ok? Keep looking at it, clear your mind, think of nothing but the wish in the moonlight… and believe. Can you do that?”
Again, Bobby looked into her eyes with confidence only unconditional love can instill, took no notice of his parents’ commotion, and nodded. He turned back to the drawing, and concentrated as hard as he could.
Rose never learned what he saw--she’d only told him the tale to console him--but was always certain the wonder and awe illuminating his eyes as he observed the drawing was absolutely real; whether or not magic existed before then, it surely became alive in that ecstatic gaze. “I see it, I see it!” he exclaimed, uncaring of whispering as he delightedly jumped up and down.
“Ok, ok,” she chuckled, laughing as she shushed him. “Quiet down, big guy, we still don’t wanna get in trouble.”
“Oh, right,” he said, but still enthusiastically stared at the window, following the shape as it flitted in a dance only he could see.
They stayed that way for some time; Bobby watching his wish come alive while Rose embraced him. Eventually, Rose noticed his eyelids droop, and suggested it was time for bed. He didn’t protest, wearily rubbing his eyes as she led him to bed and tucked him in; he rolled onto his side without a word, and quickly fell asleep. Rose watched him as he slept, smiling at his peace; the house had long since quieted, and she turned to the window, studying the moonlight sparkling across the glass.
Again, she marveled over the possibility of the existence of magic; she smiled at the window, and gratefully nodded at it. It seemed to grant Bobby’s wish; seeing him soundly asleep, safe in the tranquil silence reverberating through their home, she knew it had definitely granted hers that night.
“Woah, Dad, look!” Denny bolted into the room; it was bare, but he eagerly scampered the empty floor, bursting with ideas for the space. “There's so much room!”
Robert lumbered into the doorway, breathless from chasing his offspring. “Ok, ok,” he gasped as leaned against the frame, laughing at his son’s exhilaration in between gasps. “Slow down there, pinball, your dad’s getting old.”
“I can fit my bed over here!” Denny ran towards a corner before darting into the room's center. “And put my desk right here in the middle! And over here I can…” While Denny dashed about, imagining where his belongings would go, Robert turned as he heard his wife enter behind him.
Shoshanna laughed at Denny’s uninhibited excitement. “Looks like someone got over not wanting to move.”
“Yeah,” Robert snorted, “told you it wouldn’t last long. It helped when he saw the tree out front’s perfect for a treefort. And, of course,” he roguishly added, coyly smiling at his wife, “once I told him I was gonna convert the office into a nursery so he wouldn’t have to share with the baby, he got–”
“You are?” Shoshanna shook her head with her amazement, her eyes twinkling lovingly at him.
“Well, yeah.” Robert shrugged with feigned casualness. “Figure I got some time.” He chuckled and moved closer, kissing her while he rubbed the bump growing on her belly.
“Ok, well you know she's not gonna wait forever, right?” Shoshanna teased, adding several quick, playful smooches of her own. “You only got a couple months, so you better get to it, mister.”
“Ok, ok,” he giggled, hugging her as he kissed her again on the forehead. “I’ll do my best.” He pulled away, draping an arm over her shoulders as he scanned the empty room, and sighed. “Gotta a lot of work to do in this place.”
“Mmm, yeah.” She rubbed his back and placed her head onto his shoulder. “I know a lot here's got nothing but bad memories for you, but… it’ll be good to change that. Wash it all away. Start fresh, y’know? Make new memories. Our memories.”
“Yeah,” he quietly agreed, resting his head onto hers. “Yeah.”
Shoshanna gestured at the window. “Might be a good idea to replace that glass, for a start. Looks pretty old, I’m sure it’s a huge heat-leak.”
“No, no, no,” Robert said, impishly smiling at his wife’s perplexity over his dissent. “I can’t change that glass. I can’t do anything to that window. It’s a magic window.”
“What?” She beamed at his playfulness.
“Oh, yeah.” He vigorously nodded. “I’m not kidding, it’s totally magic. Grants wishes and everything.”
“Oh, really?” She crossed her arms and grinned, eager to hear his explanation. “Is that so?”
“Mhmm.” He pulled her closer again, wrapping his arms around her and setting his hips against hers. “Anything you want, totally comes true.”
“Yeah?” She pressed back, melting into his touch. “So it’s made a wish come true for you before?”
His smile widened, and he leaned in and kissed her again; this time, the moment lasted much longer. When they finished, he pulled away, still holding her as they watched Denny feverishly detail where his possessions would go; sunlight poured in through the panes, radiating the room and the enraptured child.
Robert rubbed his wife’s belly once more, and happily whispered to her, “Yeah. Yeah, it has.”
She rested her head onto his shoulder again, intertwining her fingers into his grasp; he kissed the top of her hair before leaning his head onto hers once more. They continued to hold each other and watch their son become lost in a blur of youthful glee; Robert looked at the shining window, and gratefully smiled, marveling at magic's incandescent existence.