I wasn’t always like this.
To look at me now you might think all kinds of bad things about me, but I can assure you my beginning hinted nothing at what was to come.
Built on a new curved road with fresh brown dirt and bright pine wood, everything about me said potential. My genesis was unremarkably normal as far as these things go, but it was paired with a sort of frenzied hopefulness for the kind of place you can be proud of.
The suburban dreamscape of middle-class pioneers.
Plans and potential.
Hopes and fresh starts.
My walls were painted bright colors and covered in wallpaper with large bold flowers. My rooms overflowed with golden light and fresh air. Every inch in pristine condition—new and welcoming, surrounded by tiny baby plants taking root in the soft soil.
It’s unfair to erase it all as if it didn’t happen, but I see you crying and perhaps you can’t remember. The dark cumulous clouds have blocked out all the light and all you can see is the eye of the storm.
I’ll remember for you.
There was a swing set, a dollhouse, and a front-yard wedding. Kids ran through my halls, drew on my walls, and hid in my cupboards. There were bubble baths and birthday parties.
A pot-bellied pig rushed through my screens and a dog died on my doorstep. Doves sang caged inside a back room, while a parakeet flew out the front door. There were guinea pigs and kittens and fish.
I held you all, but you don’t seem to remember.
You look and see the end of things and it breaks your heart. You see the way the broken things left unfixed became hazardous and ugly. The holes in the ceiling, the torn mashed carpet with exposed sharp nails, the brown-tinged water stains growing larger each day, and the tangles of weeds pushing through the cracks in the walls.
You try to convince yourself it’s all for the best, but you can’t let go. I see it in the way you touch my textured walls and turn the lights on and off. You take photos of my doorknobs, but you don’t recognize me.
I don’t either.
Time has jumped ahead, and without someone to protect and sustain the old me, I’ve transformed into a living representation of the sadness I’ve held within me for the last decade.
It hurt to watch it happen. I could do nothing to stop it.
Oh, if I could have stopped it.
I want so much for things to be different, but we both know it’s neither of our faults and it can’t be undone.
Things break and things change.
You use a shovel to remove the garbage piled inside me into black shiny bags, an archeological dig of the past. I see you unearth a few treasures I protected for you, loading them into your van before you turn to say goodbye.
There’s so much we want to say to each other, but we don’t have to.
The love and memories we’ve shared are intact and unbroken.
We get to keep them and we don’t have to say anything.
I watch you take a pair of scissors and fight through the weeds to gather up the last of the spring roses, a fragrant bundle of pinks, yellows, and reds. Breathing them in, you trace the gold house numbers with a shaking finger.
You stand in the middle of the driveway and we stare at each other. I watch you fall off your bike and get a black eye, run across the street to play with your best friend, and kiss your boyfriend beside his car. I see the transformation of us both as if it’s happening in a blink before me.
It’s painfully beautiful.
Crossing your arms across your chest and squaring your feet, you seem unable to move.
I want you to go.
You haven’t lived here in a long time and neither of us is the same as we were. We’ve been looking back through a cloud of time, yearning for something long gone, but it must end.
It already has.
Release me and turn from here.
Go, dear child.
Don’t look back.
I’ll be okay.
There will be a new future for me and there’s nothing left here for you.
Author’s note: When I read this week’s prompt I was flooded with memories of my childhood home. It felt visceral and raw, a wound not quite healed. I wrote about the experience of letting it go a few years ago, but apparently, I wasn’t done processing my feelings about the loss.
My childhood home wasn’t sold but was foreclosed upon. My brother and mother lived there, both suffering from depression. The house had endured a long-drawn-out decay, breaking bit by bit, and by the end, it was a mere shadow of the place I grew up.
It was something about the final goodbye which brought about the contrasts for me between how it was when I was a child compared to what it had become. I wrote this week’s short story in a rush, a blend of reality and fiction that poured out faster than I could type. It felt cathartic and I cried as I typed the final words. Three years later, I think I’m finally ready to let it go.
Short Story Challenge | Week 7
Each week the short stories are based on a prompt from the book “Write the Story” by Piccadilly, Inc. This week’s prompt was to write a story about selling a childhood home. We had to include the words dreamscape, convince, pioneer, genesis, cumulous, jump, mash, condition, erase, and gold.
Write With Us
Prompt: A wild animal loose in the house
Include: pregnant, community, logo, statistics, democracy, honesty, criminal, ankle, orange, comment