Irrepressible sci-fi/fantasy enthusiast.
Written By: Tacita
June 9, 2015
Go to the sea - the colder and bigger one, not the coldest or biggest, you know - and follow the sun. Cross the beach, the sand filled with stones and sharp shell shards, toughen your feet on the asphalt, do not worry about being seen - at this time few come here. At some point, if are going in the correct direction, with the sun and a little bit to the middle, you will pass where my mother lived. Skim over hours of houses and cracked concrete, beautiful weeds persisting in the margins, pass through stretches of intentioned grass and young trees - now you are closer.
Go to where the homes are made of wooden composites, or maybe brick. It is not shiny here. There is no chrome but kitchen appliances, forever and always on sale. There is glass, but it is dusty. The ghosts in these houses are quiet, more so than the people but not by much. The railings are splintered, but touch has worn them smooth again. If you knew what it was to live here, you would know what it is to collect glass shards as jewels.
Go to the dead end loop of homes between a local gas station and a chain gas station, across the main road from a paint store. If you go too far down the main road, you will be in another city, so mind where you turn. Where the streets feed into the main road, there are X-es painted, so the residents can get out of the U, but the drivers at rush hour like to sit on the X-es anyways. There are five houses on the left side of the street, the inside of the circle - count one, two, three. There's a white house here, with false black shutters. If it was the spring, the creeping phlox would be blooming violet and the lilac tree on the right would be in bloom and the tulips would be carmine and ochre and the pale purple crocuses would just be dying, but it is summer and the grass is drying up and the cracks in the pavement are full of stubborn weeds. It smells like baking concrete, but if you duck under the little lilac tree you smell moss.
Go to the backyard where the grass is shaded by whatever trees are left, and the hydrangea tucked against the back porch is doing better than the ones in front. There's a patio where if you step on some of the stones wrong they'll rock in the sand intended to keep them steady and you'll lose your footing. The concrete bench must be sat upon with care, because it's painfully rectangular and the edges will bite the backs of your thighs. There used to be a stone angel sitting on the edge, more comfortably than you, but it was taken inside during the really hard winter when you broke your ankle because it belonged to your mother's mother and she was afraid it might break.
Go to sit on the bench anyways, carefully. There used to be a beautiful tree to your front, near the back fence, which is wooden, but it girdled. The skinny rose plant next to where it used to be continues to grow, even though it's been cut to the root three times (its blooms are dark pink and beautiful). The rosebush to your right in the corner, near the beige plastic fence, looks like it might eat children for fun and has thorns an inch long (its blooms are pale peach and look like they belong on vintage couches). To your left is a chain link fence preceded by a wall of evergreen trees twice your height, and a dogwood sapling about two thirds of that. Behind you is the dark iron bulkhead to the basement. It smells like cold wood.
Go to the front door, because if you go in the back door when no one's home the alarm will go off automatically. If the windows haven't been open for a few hours it will smell vaguely musty, but not unpleasantly. Sit on the pea-chartreuse couch, which dips in the middle. There's a rosy hope chest on the left, which is very smooth and also nice to sit on. The rug is worn thin where people have tread. Don't tap out notes on the secondhand upright piano (it would be closed anyways) because if you are quiet for long enough, and definitely alone, you will hear the house ghost walking around on the second floor. She doesn't do much.
Go through the wooden-floored dining room, with the cracks between planks that go through to the basement, past the hot air vent where you can warm your feet in winter, through the kitchen with the beige cabinets and gilt knobs, the checkerboard tile floor which continues to the hall you entered in, and go up the stairs. If you grew up with these stairs with this carpeting, you would be surprised and faintly displeased with actually plush carpets later because they're so deep. The wall is deep red and the family pictures are forever askew - the whole house is, actually. The third floor is not for guests, so peek in the first door in front of you at the top of the stairs. A white bunk bed, a powder blue antique vanity with three wooden wheels missing and pink flowers, a blue bookcase, a white desk, a blue bureau. This is what you see. That's okay. It's hard to say these kinds of things right, anyways.