So I know that today is Wednesday - time for Write on Wednesday. This week though, the prompt was to take a walk, and write based on that. I don't know about you guys, but it has spent the greater part of the last two weeks here pouring rain. Not really conducive to a nice, long walk in the park.
I still want to post some writing though, so I'm going to post a short of mine that I'm pretty proud of.
It was the home I’d grown up in, save for those first few months on Glenlock before we moved to accommodate a fourth person, a baby brother named Corey that I asked my parents to send back when I first met him – “he’s boring”. It was the house I’d spent my childhood discovering every inch of, every corner, closet, and cabinet until I had it memorized just in case I lost it one day.
I’d gotten to know the ghosts and the memories that lived in the attic in the back of my closet, and I knew the little boy who used to play in my room before he died, before I was ever even born; or at least I knew the stories my neighbors had told us when we first moved in, and which my parents relayed to me when I was older. I knew that the house held much more than our nuclear family of Mother, Father, Sister, and Brother. I knew the whispers that the walls spoke late at night when they thought that nobody was listening, and I knew their secrets in a way that said I had no idea how much they actually knew. I knew the secrets they chose to tell me, the way I held onto them like tiny treasures.
I knew which tiles in the bathroom downstairs would come up if you pulled them, and I knew which doors creaked and which ones didn’t. I knew how many windows we had - fifteen, because a Dr. Seuss activity book my father had bought me told me to count them. I knew which plank could be pulled out of the walkway in the backyard to hide secret treasures like berries and honeysuckles in the summer. I knew the area under the porch my uncle had built one spring, and how we sat under there all summer pretending it was a clubhouse, collecting flowers and berries and mixing them to make a salad that neither of us were daring enough to actually eat. I knew the tree stump in the backyard that Corey and I planned to tunnel our way into and build a secret fort under after the first time we heard the story of Peter Pan’s secret house in the ground, and I knew by heart the dents we’d made in the bark with a couple of shovels meant for digging in the sand, not in tree bark.
I knew the McDonalds toys that my mom collected, the way they’d been lined up on the windowsill above the kitchen sink for as long as I could remember – Disney princesses and Pokemon. But I can’t quite remember a time when they were being handed out with my Happy Meal. I knew the spices in the back of the cabinet that nobody ever used, but we still owned because “maybe one day we’ll need them.” I remember the play-dough we made on the stove with a recipe my mom had found in a craft book, and I remember the day it dried up, the way Corey and I tried to fix it by putting it in a bowl of hot water. I remember when that didn’t work, and my mom helped us make more.
I knew the way that the platform by the stairs turned into a stage when there was a two-woman play, just me and my best friend, and I knew the way it turned into a church when Corey was marrying the neighbor’s little girl in her old white Communion dress. I knew that I hated sharing a room with my little brother, but as soon as he was in the room next door, the bedroom we’d once shared felt somehow empty and I missed him and the noises he made in the morning, when he was playing imaginary games with himself waiting for everybody else to wake up. I knew the secret language we invented, made up half by whispers and half by knowing the other better than anybody else in the world that we spoke when my parents were asleep and only the walls were listening, collecting secrets about us for the next generation.
I knew the darkened stain on the closet door upstairs, where my friend and I had built our club – Girls Only – and Corey had sprayed the door with Lysol in an attempt to get in. And I knew the baseball cards that Corey and I found stashed in that closet, an entire box of them, unopened that my dad had bought on the day I was born. I knew the faces on those cards when we opened a new pack each week, even if I didn’t know the importance of that face and who they really were. I knew the games that we had invented without ever speaking a word about the rules, and I’m sure I could still play the games, but I’d never quite know how to explain them; I have no doubt that he remembers them too. I knew the fallen toy army men who’d been taken prisoner under the fireplace during one of our made-up games; they finally came back out one Christmas Eve, burnt from the fire they’d caused as their last attempt at freedom while my parents held a party in the other room.
I knew which neighbor’s dog howled into the night when they wouldn’t let her in, and I knew the stray cats who came to our yard at night to taunt my domesticated house cat Max, who always managed to get himself up a tree but never quite knew how to get himself back down when the squirrels he’d been chasing disappeared. And I knew which window above the desk in the hall to open to let Max back in when it got dark and he’d learned his lesson, at least for a few hours. I knew the way that Max and Corey taunted one another for years, the way they always acted like they hated one another. But I also knew the look in Corey’s eyes when Max ran away one day – the recognition that he’d never actually hated Max to begin with.
I knew the hallway that led to the family room, even in the dark on tiptoes when Corey and I were playing Spy-Kids late at night in the summer, using our Inspector Gadget toys from Rite Aid as props. And I knew which keyhole to silently stare through to watch Titanic while my parents sat together on the couch unaware that I was crying as the ship sank and Jack lost his grip on Rose. I knew the shapes that the sponge paint on the walls made, and I knew the almost unnoticeable lines drawn in pencil on that wall, marking mine and Corey’s progressive heights on an erratic schedule I could never quite keep track of.
I knew the neighbors that spent most of their days on the front porch talking, and I knew the neighbors who didn’t want us to know them. I knew the neighbors who still got oil heat, because one time their shipment was poured in my basement instead of theirs, and we had to move out for a couple of months to an apartment two towns over. I knew which neighbor was getting older and losing his hearing, because I could hear his phone ring from behind the closed doors of my home. And I knew which neighbors to go to on Halloween, and which neighbors to never go near even in the daylight.
I knew the way the stars shined at night, when I was counting them instead of sheep from my bed, and I knew how many windows I had in my room to watch the starts from – five, all too small to accommodate curtains. I remember the way I felt that first night after my dad finally found curtains to fit those windows, how long it took me to fall asleep when I didn’t have the stars to count anymore.
And I remember waving goodbye to the poison ivy hills in front of our home where I’d never gotten a rash but my brother and dad did every summer; and goodbye to the stone bench by the garden gate where my dad had long ago given up planting flowers. I remember saying one last goodbye to the tree stumps that had doubled as picnic benches, school desks, chairs, and dinner plates for the last five years since my parents had had the trees outside of my window cut down for fear of a strong spring storm. I remember saying goodbye to the staircase that had worked as a classroom for our imaginary lessons, a church for so many weddings, and a stage for all of our last-minute plays. I remember standing in front of the make-shift closet in my room that led to the attic, finding letters written to a woman who hadn’t lived there in over a decade at least. And I remember saying goodbye to the shadows and the ghosts and the walls that spoke that I’d built a bond with over the years, realizing finally that I wasn’t really scared of them after all.
I remember standing at the top of the concrete stairs outside of my house for one last time, staring at the porch swing I’d never sit in again as it moved slightly in the breeze, and wondering if one day I’d have a home with a porch swing and a park bench by the garden gate because I already missed it there. And the second we locked the door, I missed the creak in the floors and the Crayola drawings on my brother’s bedroom wall, right next to where his bed used to be. I missed the painting in the dining room that hadn’t been painted for this house, but still looked exactly like it in a way that made me think the artist had been there before.
I originally wrote this piece for a creative writing class I took last semester, but I'm pretty happy with how it came out in the end. What are your thoughts on it, guys?