10th post: Short Story- The Home I Grew Up In

Alright, so I missed a day.

I’m going to try something new. First, i’m going to try writing during whilst the sun is up and second i’m going to make this a happy tale, or at least have a happy ending.

Anyhoo, here i go.

The Home I Grew Up In

All the furniture in the old house was rotting.

Ok that’s not quite true, not rotting, something else. I’m not sure what. All the corners were getting jagged. What was smooth is now splintered. It was irritating and painful, an erosion caused by people.

I noticed it for the first time when i collapsed onto the couch, the one i grew up reading on, a heavy booklet of photos in my hand. I brushed up against the desk next to the couch, drawing a line of blood, and marking the damn thing. Immediately i cursed and i wanted to hit something. No one else here though. In this old place. It even smelled old here. Like sawdust and heaviness. On the bright days the rising sun would reveal a cyclone of dust near the balcony window.

The photos were heavy. Mine were so much lighter, online, less than two dimensional. Full of smiles. These pages were a pain to turn, but turn them i did. I was looking for some kind of anchor- to go back to the way the place was when i was too small to reach the newspaper Dad kept on top of the table.

I flip past pictures of my parent’s friends, none of whom i recognise. Their young faces stare up at me like some kind of warning. In each picture my Dad’s smile is the same. Like someone copy and pasted him into all the old shots. Like he was a time traveller, unchanging. How dull. My mother moved forward faster, going grey towards the end, wrinkles forming. My father maintained appearences for much longer, frozen in time. Until their were no more pictures. Whilst my mother grew old my father remained static and then disappeared.

I closed the photos and started to explore the old place.

I went to the table. A thin layer of opened newspapers covered the table entirely in order to protect the fragile, scarred surface of the dining area underneath it. All the newspapers on it, now spread open- meaningless. Dates and times and articles merging, covered in paint, in dust. Once there was just a single paper, for each and every day- thick, folded, awaiting my Uncle or Father’s eyes. Scanning this ugly mural I catch a headline:

“Internet Censorship Scandal.”

An old headline, way before it’s time. Like the memory of a clarion call to battle. Those battles had been fought, lost. The world was different now. As i bend over to examine more memories i slip, and almost fall, catching myself on a chair. Goddamn dust, so much dust. I swear at no one, and wonder, not for the first time, what the fuck i’m doing back here. My leg begins to throb, so i reach in and pluck out my phone. It’s my friend. He wants me to find him a lawyer. Fucking idiot- he could get me into trouble too.

I remember reading once that the test of a true friend is what they do when you call them up and ask for bail. I switch the phone to silent. This isn’t the time for idle romances. I could be implicated with him. Hackers get longer sentences than tax evaders, obviously, and sometimes more than drug dealers. The illegal ones at least.

I catch another headline, half obscured by one paper on top of another.

“..A Tax Revenues In the Millions”

I pull the paper out, and it resists, briefly, glued down by, i don’t know, something. The full headline reads:

“Marijuana Tax Revenues In the Millions.” Dated the year after legalization.

I remember that party. That feeling. Smoked all night with my friends, celebrating. It was so funny, watching the straight edges squirm. Upon the spectrum of opinions the moderates weren’t so sure what to do. Their government had just told them it’s ok to get stoned. A few assholes revealed themselves, blaming the government for corrupting us all as if they were old folks telling all of us to get off their lawn, as opposed to single twenty somethings with barely a clue.

That party, we were celebrating something resembling progress. A victory i guess. All out cheering reaching that crescendo- i remember that. We sounded like one glorious beast, howling at the night after a successful kill.

We traded our voices for a high. My phone starts ringing again, and I rush over to the sofa and bury it under a cushion. What? Don’t judge me. You haven’t had your door knocked on, opening it up to have the big boots, the guns in holsters, the cold eyes reminding you you don’t own fuck all, you can’t say no. That your’re living on borrowed land.

I go back to the table.

On a whim I get on my hands and knees. Suddenly i’m there again. The massive forest blinks into existence. The trunks of those dark brown trees don’t look like they’ve aged much. A few scuff marks, and dust all on the floor, but i can still remember playing wolf and bear. I was the older one, the bear, strong but slow, and the wolf could keep out of reach between the trunks, till he grabbed my ankles and won.

I remember that.

I also remember the day we stopped playing. The bear hated losing, so he’d changed the rules. He’d pushed up with his growing back and nearly tipped over the table, glasses spilling to the ground. The wolf had frozen in fear, and the bear had laughed. Then my mother came and that was that- no more playing under the table. My younger brother didn’t seem to mind.

Good times. I think.

I should be thankful that i got to remember them. Before, I didn’t know how to feel about it, when the letter came from the government. I feel kind of grateful now, if only for that one memory of a better time.

From the hallway came the voice of the police officer: “ARE YOU FINISHED?”

I try to be polite as i yell back, “NOT YET PLEASE. JUST 20 MINUTES.”

“TEN.”

“OK THANK YOU.”

Just like my mother always used to say when i tried to ask for more time. Ten it is i guess. I should be happy that the government is letting me collect some of father’s old things in the first place. They call him a criminal so i mean, of course this must all be evidence now. Instead they took some sympathy on me, which works because i’m fucking broke and i think i remember where he used to keep some cash.

I’m tall enough to reach the tin now, and i pull it open and sure enough there’s enough money for a few more months. At the bottom is some faded picture, but i can’t make out what’s there anymore. Maybe a family, i’m not sure.

I walk past the officer, smile.

“You can go in now.” I say.

They do.

It’s not until i’m downstairs that i remember i left my phone. It’s like being thrown into a pool of ice cold water. It was a live feeling, a young feeling, not old at all. I’m less than forty you see.

Maybe this is how my brother felt when i’d pin him to the ground under that old table and make the tears come out. I never should have laughed when he’d call for mom, i realise that now.

I awaited the end, dumb and frozen downstairs for the police to come back. They did.

Don’t judge me.

I had no where else to go.

POSTSCRIPT: Happy ending like i promised.

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