It was Christmas morning inside a spacious Tigard home at the end of a generic cul-de-sac named after a genocidal Italian mariner. Danielle and her three generic children, boy 14, girl 11, boy 8, lounged in the rec room as a superhero movie played on television. Everyone fiddled on their phones or tablets or watches, frequently two or three at the same time, if such a thing was possible, which it is. Look all around you.
A fake tree stood in the corner and strewn around its base was the shredded shiny papers that once wrapped thousands of dollars worth of new gadgets that the kids wordlessly fiddled on while simultaneously dumbing down their souls.
Danielle reached for a mug of cheap rose she’d just poured from a big box. Yes, it was morning, but dunking Costco cinnamon rolls in rose was simply divine. And it was Christmas after all. Bacon in the rose was next.
The kids’ loot was courtesy of their affluent parents, who were amicably divorced and parented in the modern style, meaning sheer indulgence. Danielle was a mortgage processor in Beaverton and her ex leased commercial real estate in buildings constructed upon dead wetlands throughout Washington County.
All of the new gadgets replaced the same old gadgets from the previous year. The kids had to have the best. It was all they talked about with their mom, that is when they even talked. They usually just ignored her, unless they wanted fast food delivered.
THUD! Something had smacked into the sliding glass door that opened up to a back yard that had gone to seed. Despite the thud, the kids never looked up from their gadgets.
Danielle got up from the couch and carried her wine over to the door. She saw a robin splayed on the moss-covered patio, writhing, then not writhing.
THUD! Another robin walloped into the glass and hit the patio. It was twitching.
Danielle shook and gasped, but didn’t drop the wine. She slugged the rose, set down the mug, and tried to open the door. It wouldn’t budge. She kept trying. Nothing. She didn’t realize all the debris stuck under the runners made door movement impossible.
No one had opened the door in years.