A Brief First Look at the Collins Family
Photo 1 Samantha Collins, mother of five, is standing in the middle of the screened in porch of her house, she is holding up her right arm, the fingers of her hand are digging into a plump tomato; juice runs down her wrist.
Samantha, Sammie to her friends, had just finished setting the table and had moved on to cutting up a big garden salad for that evening’s dinner. It had been a long day and she had only just gotten Jason to take bath, which was long overdue. She had become distracted looking at her husband through the kitchen window when she hears her oldest son, Fred, yelling to her from upstairs. It is a frantic call that penetrates the wood of their old farmhouse. Samantha drops the old knife with the ivory handle that had been given to her on her wedding day and it clangs on the ground with a metallic ring that fills the kitchen as she sprints out of the room and runs to the staircase.
Photo 2 Thomas, Samantha’s husband, is standing in the middle of the backyard, and wearing only his blue jeans. His look is quizzical, but there is no indication has to what he is looking at. There is a broken swing set in the background and the sky is filled with heavy cumulus clouds.
He had been working outside ever since lunch, partially to avoid Sam but mostly to avoid the looks of his son Jason. The boy, who was only four, had been the only child home at the time and had overheard his parents argument about the electricity bill and had picked up on his father’s powerful use of the word “Bitch.” He had come into the living room and promptly asked what was wrong. Jason played off the situation, saying, “Mom and Dad just having a talk, Jason. Go play with your toys.”
Thomas spent the rest of the day weeding the flowerbeds in front gardens and reorganizing, for the second time this year, the rusted tool shed in the corner of the backyard. He had seen a hawk circle in the sky before plummeting to the ground and then rising up again, a small cat in its claws. He hears a cry from inside the house; someone must have stolen a toy or tattled to Mom about who knows what. He lets out his breath and looks up into the afternoon sky. Tomas begins to lumber towards the backdoor.
Photo 3 One of the daughters, Louise, is blowing bubbles by the big TV in the living room. She has dirt on her face.
She knows something is wrong. She hears banging and yelling from upstairs. Her brother Fred comes down and tells her to go over to the Shea’s house (their next-door neighbors) and stay there. His eyes are puffy but he does not seem to be really looking at her and he will not answer her when she asks what is wrong.
“Where are Mom and Dad?”
“Just go,” he says
“But I need them-“
“Go, Louise. Just go.”
Photo 4 The third son, George, is standing at the edge of the driveway, he is dressed formally and his jacket’s sleeves stretch past his hands. He is only 12, but he looks much older in the picture’s lighting.
George had just been dropped off at home by the school bus. He was confused because he had just seen Louise walking down the street, headed who knows where. Girls do strange things.
He walks up the driveway, pulling at his dress shirt and jacket – picture day at school was always the worst. He is contemplating taking his shirt off right there for the world to see when the front door bangs open and his eyes shoot up and see his father running out with something in his hands. The thing, whatever it is, is wrapped up in one of Mom’s green bath towels. George stands still, hands still clutching at the buttons of his dress shirt. His father’s jeans are soaking, and the bundle in his arms slips a little – a flash of scrawny little boy legs and grey toes.
Photo 5 Samantha and Thomas lying in bed. His black hair is sticking up on the right side and she is reading a magazine, her red reading glasses are on.
Samantha ran up the stairs. She was not sure how much more she could take from the kids today. Five was too many; hell one was too much. Maybe her mother had been right when she said that things start off the best and everything else is just desire and longing. Maybe. She gets to the top landing and calls out to Fred.
“Fred! Where are you? I have dinner going right now.”
The sound is coming from the kid’s bathroom. She cant imagine the mess that has probably been made – and she thought Jason having a bubble bath was as simple as possible. She walks down the hallway, her bare feet making a “swooshing” sound on the thick brown carpet, passing the dated family photos that line the white, wooden-walls. She hears the backdoor slam shut – Thomas must have finally decided to come back inside.
She reaches the door to the kid’s bathroom, but Fred is blocking the doorway.
“Honey, I need you to mo-“
She can see over his head. She can see the medicine cabinet and the toothbrushes that are lined up on the ledge below it. She can see the see the towel rack with the freshly laundered towels ready to be used and the pile of clothes that are lying on floor beside the tub. Mostly though, she can see that the bathtub’s water must had run out of bubbles long ago as she can clearly see the small, fair-skinned body lying on the tub’s porcelain bottom.