A Second Home

Published: Wednesday, 29 October 2014 Written by Catrina Smith

`I went to my Aunty Vickie’s house for the last time today. I went alone. I walked up the two steps and into the entryway. The small fountain placed parallel to my left side was no longer alive and flowing with crystal clear, brilliant water like it had done so many years ago. Now, the fountain was rusty looking, thickly layered in dust. I walked up to the maroon door that led to the main household and I looked through the window that it had and gave a slight smile, memories rushing back to me. I took out my key and the brass knocker of the door mocked me as I unlocked the time portal. The lock popped and I pushed the door ajar. Its hinges moaned as I trespassed through.

I made my way through the first archway and into the kitchen. It was incredibly quiet. There was no longer the constant hum of the slick white refrigerator, there was no swish of the dishwasher turning on and off, and no constant padding of my Aunt’s pacing feet, all of which had at one point illuminated the kitchen. The walls were blank, gone were the family photographs and greeting signs that once covered the sheer white walls. The cabinets were now empty and no remnants of my Aunt’s china remained.

As I walked into the living room of the house I ran my fingertips along the radiator, which as a child, I was told never to touch because I would burn myself. There was nothing to fear now however, as the radiator stood frigid like an ice sculpture, not turned on and collecting dust for what must’ve been months.

The living room was much like the kitchen. The only exception, being that the clock on the mantle above the fireplace still gave off a faint tick. I sat down in the high-backed blue chair nearest me and examined the room. Looking closer now I could see the cobwebs forming in the far right corner of the room. I looked to my left to the open display case which at one time had photographs of ancestors to great grandchildren. Examining more, I noticed  the case was spotless except for a single piece of of photography paper. I picked it up and held it gently in my hand for fear it may crumble like a cookie. I flipped over the paper which had started to turn yellow with age, and watched the image. It caught me slightly by surprise seeing my own sixth grade face staring back at me. As if it stood as a reminder that I had been left behind, in more ways than one.

I left the stone hard seat of the chair and walked next door to the bedroom. This room, unlike the others, was completely and utterly barren. My footsteps echoed off the walls of the room accompanied by the creaking of the wooden floorboards. I sat myself in the great bay window that looked out over the bushes of evergreen and faced myself toward the room. I closed my eyes and took a journey back in time.

I saw myself come into the room twice. Once, when I was little, maybe about seven. The room was dark and the curtains were drawn, but as I opened the door the short amount of light allowed me to see a body on the left side of the bed. I saw myself tiptoe over and tap the body. “Good morning Uncle Ralph,” my quiet voice said. Caught off guard, the man turned over quickly.

“Well, good morning to you too princess. Go and help your Aunt with breakfast, I will be out in a minute,” he said and pecked my cheek.

The second time I was older, about thirteen. Light of the sun shown through the two windows of the room, giving the white walls a warm and vibrant feeling.

“So Miss Stylist, have you decided what I’m going to wear?” my Aunty Vickie asked.

I think so, do you like it? I thought you'd want to pick your own shoes though,” I told her gesturing to the outfit I had laid out on the floral duvet of the bed, that was always kept in neat fashion. She held up the outfit to her body and examined it in the large, horizontal mirror which hung above her bureau and next to her closet. “Looks great.”

I opened my eyes now to find all those things gone. No more clothes hanging in either closet, no long bureau that held jewelry boxes, no dresser which held Uncle Ralph’s photography accessories atop of it. Most of all, gone was the bed I was never allowed to sit on for fear I may, ‘mess it up’, and gone was the cross necklace that hung on the bed frame's post.

I moved to the last room. Passing the open-doored bathroom which had gray and pink wallpaper that had started to peel. The den reminded me much of the bedroom, nearly barren except for the white walls which were interrupted at points by a large, bay window which looked over the back garden, and by another window which connected to the inside porch a room over.  I opened the closet door in the den and immediately found what I was looking for. I scanned the list to the top and found it.

Catrina 2012- 5’6”  was written in a cursive writing that could only be my Aunt’s. I closed the closet door and made my way out of the room, running my hands along the walls which had a straw-like textured wallpaper.

I made my way slowly out of the house, locking up as I went. As I walked down the winding pathway that led to the main road I said a bittersweet goodbye to the place I could always call home.

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