When is a house truly a home?
Once upon a time there was a house…
(No, not that house.)
This house was lovely, and beautiful to the young girl. Many thought it was a bit run down. Her father thought that it was too large for a mother and two small children. He said it would be expensive to heat and keep cool.
It was on a corner lot and had the biggest yard on the block. The play area/jungle gym in the backyard seemed tiny in such a big yard, but the girl loved it. It was neat that a park was at the end of her block, but that didn’t compare to one in her own yard. Plus, there was a park right next to her father’s house. Old news.
She got to pick her room. She picked the one that had two huge windows overlooking the front street. She could keep an eye on the comings and goings of everyone.
There was an alley in the back, with a carport. The alley was the part that gave her the most pause. It reminded her of the bad parts of the previous house. It reminded her that people could sneak in. People could take her to a secret place behind the garage (but it was a garage- not a shed) and tell her not to make any noise or bad-bad-bad things would happen to her. To her mother. To her baby brother.
But no one ever came through the alley. The girl shied away from it for weeks. She met the neighbors. There was a girl two doors down her own age. That had never happened before. The neighbor’s name was Brittany (“that’s Brittany with an a-n, not an n-e” she would say).
Brittany was fearless. She roamed the streets of that neighborhood without a care. And soon, the girl went with her. They went to the park. They went by the church that had a huge empty parking lot (good for skating in). They went down the alley.
And the girl learned that the alley wasn’t a monster that bit; breath stinking, eyes sparking, teeth sharply glinting. That monster had been left far behind.
This new house was wonderful.
She got to watch Grey grow from grinning baby into a timid, sensitive toddler. She held her birthday there for two years in a row (father was miffed). She told the walls her secrets, fed the carpet her tears. But the roof also got the echo of her laughter and the stairs happily took her excited, pounding feet.
She grew up there.
Sure, there were other places. There was Father’s two houses (the walls got whispers and the carpets were dry- no yelling or crying in his presence). There were piles of schools. There were friends and relatives houses. But they hardly mattered. They didn’t course through her veins like a sweet melody. The trees there didn’t welcome her with bowing branches, waving leaves.
She watched her mother find someone new. She watched her tentatively move into his house. She noticed how her mother did not move many belongings. Next to no furniture. She noticed how her home on the corner lot was kept. Guarded. Hoarded.
As it should be.
Her home on the corner lot was there for her when the locks were changed at her father’s house. Her father did not want her. It was high school graduation day and the girl thought she would have no where to go.
The home sang it’s reprise and she remembered. The walls expanded. She no longer had a simple corner bedroom. The rooms were her’s. She reveled in it.
But not for long.
Then the shadow that was Katherine injected her poison into the very foundation. The girl had to work. Go to school. She was not there a lot. Katherine claimed to want to take care of the house.
It was a lie.
The house suffered. And it broke the girl’s heart. She frantically tried to keep her imprint on the big, old, beautiful structure. She wasn’t strong enough. And Katherine smelled it, repulsed.
The house still loved her unconditionally. When she curled into it’s tattered recesses, broken-hearted, the house swept her in softly. Carefully. It tucked her into it’s soul.
She thought that might not be the worse way to go. A home always there for her. It was better than all the things and people that were not.
When she took the pills the first time, the walls seemed to sing and bend and whisper sweet nothings.
She merely slept after the concert put on for her though. She was never good at understanding pills and dosage and 6 or 7 seemed like a lot.
The second time the walls and ceiling hummed mournfully. They did not sing. The windows gaped and shattered in her mind. The doors spit fire. She ran down to the deep, dark bottom of the house. The dank basement. It was silent there. It was cool. She painted lines of red onto her arms and chest with the sharp black paintbrush (knife) while her heart skittered, scattered, then debated on beating with slow, languid pulses.
It was the house that called to that sober part of her. It was the house that sang softly that this was not the way to go. The home on the corner lot was flattered by the love showed with this ultimate sacrifice, but it knew there would be other houses. It knew there would be those that could heal her. It knew there would be those that would miss her. Those that could not shoulder the pain of her loss.
The home on the corner lot could.
The house was lost to foreclosure (she did not blame her mother- she couldn’t have saved it either).
She still dreams of the corner bedroom. The spacious kitchen. The sparkling sunroom. The enormous backyard. Many of her dreams take place in that house, even though she hasn’t set foot in it in years. She dreams of Zoe running up and down the stairs, though her canine lifeguard has never laid eyes upon the property.
Her first lifeguard.
Someday, perhaps, she might be able to give her heart and soul to another house. Make another home.
For now she is content with her semi-gypsy life and constant moving.
Plus, she needs a place that sings.
Beautiful and so poignant.
Thank you. High praise from a lovely writer such as yourself 🙂
Oh stahhhp! 🙂
“Fed the carpet her tears…” great imagery..well done
Thank you very much. It took a lot out of me to write this, so I’m very happy it was well-received.
I couldn’t tear myself away. I’ve never had a home like this in my life….I understand the call so deeply though. I have a home that sings too…I just haven’t found it yet.
Amazing post Pen.
Honestly, I wasn’t aware of the foreclosure until after it was seized (I was in the hospital at the time). My mother was too scared to tell me. I don’t blame her.
I have fantasies of buying it up again in the future. Army hates that idea, as it’s in a bit of a slum neighborhood. I think perhaps he’s right, in a roundabout way. I’m meant to find another house that touches me that deeply and that’s how I’ll know I’ve found home.
Thank you so much for reading ❤
so beautiful, so happy and so so sad. exquisitely written, wringing painful drops of emotion from the reader, even as the reader yearns to share them. i hope ‘she’ finds a true home again (not just a house) sometime soon.
Thank you. I made the mistake of composing a good portion of this at work (during my lunch break) and I had to hide in the bathroom briefly to compose myself. It is a heart-wrenching tale.
I’m glad it came out so well.
I hope ‘she’ finds a true home again as well.
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