Homecoming

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  We are moving home. Lindsay is outside in the street, in charge of the yard sale, chilling out beneath the makeshift awning that is the open garage door. It’s hot out today so Her ability to exude crippling quantities of heat will go mostly unnoticed. I’m in the stuffy confines of the attic, the dust thick on the air around me, moving the various boxes of miscellanea and depositing them instead on the second floor landing of what will soon be just a memory of a house. It will still exist, of course, the three bedroom semi that I grew up in will always be planted firmly here, halfway between my high school and my sister’s elementary, but I don’t think I’ll ever have the heart to come back. Not in the foreseeable future, anyway.

It’s slow work. I get lost in every cardboard time capsule I open. I find a motorized Erector car my father built for me in one long night when I hadn’t made anything for the science fair the next day. I turn it on but it doesn’t work. I come across a shoebox full of photos and thumb my way through eighty-three, eighty-four, eighty-five. Mom’s already gone by then, yet Jenny and I are happy and smiling in each and every Polaroid. Blowing out candles on a cake, dressed as animals in our school play of Noah’s Ark, watching fireworks down in Orlando, our grinning, upturned faces lit up spectacularly by the bursts of light above. Looking at them now I can almost feel his pride emanating from behind the lens, his camera always focused on what was important, the dazzling display purposefully out of shot.  

  I find the old Nintendo Entertainment System and suddenly I’m six and I’m coming down the stairs and I can hear the 8bit music and I’m comforted. He’s sitting cross-legged in front of the old fifteen-inch display as I knew he would be, playing Zelda II in the darkness. I miss him.

  “How’s it going?” comes a voice from the access door in the corner. It stuns me from my reverie and makes me jump a little. Jenny’s face is grinning by the time I turn around to look. “Oops, sorry,” she says, a smile pushing at her cheeks, trying to get out, “didn’t mean to scare ya.”

  “It’s alright,” I say, getting to my feet and dusting my butt off. “Since you’re here, would you mind helping me shift Mom’s clothes?” It’s the biggest box here and I’d already attempted – unsuccessfully – to get it down the ladder on my own.

  “Sure, no problem,” she says, climbing up into the darkness. I’m still getting my head around seeing her here again. It’s been years –nearly a decade – since we were in the house together. She came back for Dad’s funeral, of course, but turned down my offer of staying here afterwards, out of respect or spite for the old man I’m not sure. She’d headed straight for the airport after the service was over. Didn’t even stay for the wake. After everything, she still felt unwelcome. Can’t say I blame her.

  Lindsay had phoned her a week ago and told her about the move. I didn’t know anything about it until I woke up this morning and found Jenny on my doorstep looking guilty, saying “I changed my mind.” I didn’t even know what from until Lindsay explained Her underhanded play to me whilst Jenny took a nap on the sofabed – she refused to sleep in her old room.

  “She said no at first, of course,” She’d said as we set up the tables outside, “but I think she knew it was her last chance to reconcile with the place and it’s past before a new family moves in and begins making mistakes of their own in it.”

  Watching Jenny whilst we set up I thought it was a push she wasn’t ready for. She walked around the corridors uncomfortably. Forced smiles when I showed her the battle scars we’d given the house over the years. When the sale got going she’d remained outside with Lindsay but even that had been painful, I think. Putting a price on memories she hadn’t even realized she would miss. Every hour I would bring out a new selection of items I’d found – good enough to escape the trash box but sub-par when it came to meeting the extremely exclusive expectations of keep – and her heart would break all over again as she would sticker up our lives.

  I stand on the first step of the ladder as Jenny carefully lowers the box into my outstretched hands.

  “You got it?” she calls from above. My hands firmly placed at either edge, I open my mouth to call back that I’ve got it when the bottom of the box gives way and the entire contents, every shawl and blouse and librarian-length skirt comes pouring out and over me, draping me in every fabulous colour imaginable. There’s a shuffling sound above as Jenny opens the top of the box I’m still holding and looks at me through the emptiness she finds within and immediately bursts into peels of uncontrollable laughter and I smile.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:
Blame Per Diem exists for a couple of reasons, one of which is my annoying inability to force anything. I have a lot of projects near completion, but if the ending doesn’t come of it’s own accord I refuse to force it out. I personally believe I produce terrible work if I make myself sit down to write something without feeling it ready inside of me. The Lindsay story is something that hasn’t shown up on BPD in a long while, and it’s a shame because it’s easily my favourite of all my mini-series. I’ve really been looking forward to the third part, waiting for it to come to the forefront of my mind and say “I’m ready. Birth me.” Today was that day.

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~ by Joseph Blame on September 4, 2010.

One Response to “Homecoming”

  1. I love this whole series, so far.

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