28 February 2011

Going Home

This will, according to my current plans, eventually be a part of a novel, compiled of a series of 'essays' (for lack of a better word) written by the characters. However, for the time being it only exists in bits and pieces. This is one of those bits. ~ Kate

Why I drove that route home that night, I don't exactly know. Nobody's ever really frequented that road, not as long I can remember. It's what's known around here as the 'scenic route' -- country code for 'pretty much abandoned.'
Suddenly I saw a fox out of the corner of my eye along the side of the road. I slowed, but the crunching of the gravel under the truck's tires scared it and it bolted off the road onto a driveway.
I watched it run up the driveway's gentle curve to the the house. My truck's wheels followed.
The house was formerly baby blue, now a sort of washed-out grey. I could almost see the geraniums that used to add a bright splash to the paint near the foundation. Now though, the geraniums were gone, leaving in their place brown stalks nestled among frost-killed weeds.
I parked the truck, took the key out of the ignition, and got out. The bang of the door closing seemed like an explosion ripping through the undisturbed air.
I walked up to the front door in slow motion. The thick stillness around me seemed to prevent quick movement.
The white paint was peeling, the handle blackened by years of children's grubby hands pulling at it. I reached out my hand, now much larger and toughened from years of work, and gave the handle the lightest of touches. The door swung open.
Dinner was cooking. Roast and potatoes, if my nose could be trusted. Two of my younger brothers wrestled on the living room carpet, then my older sister came in and reprimanded them. I took off my coat and took a hanger from the closet.
The rusted wire nearly dissolved in my hands. And suddenly I was plunged back into a phantom of something only vaguely familiar.
I put my coat back on and hung what remained of the hanger back in the closet. The step forward raised a cloud of dust and dead flies that fell back to the ground almost immediately as if too tired to hover.
I went to the kitchen. One cupboard door lay on the ground, like a chameleon in the greyness. In the corner of the room was the staircase, the pantry beside it. Next to that was a window.
A nearly-black curtain of age had been drawn across it. I blew on it, but it did little to move the dust that had died there. I unlocked it and tried to push it open, but time had taken the lock's place. It wouldn't budge.
I went back outside and stood on the porch. The stillness in the house was beginning to smother me.
There was a sizable garden plot across from where I stood. Once my mother would harvest zucchinis, carrots, radishes, peas, potatoes... but now there were no vegetables, only weeds too disillusioned to attempt survival. Even the dirt was grey.
Wait. There was something growing along the garden's edge.
A marigold.
Bright orange against the grey. My father's hands were tending it, watering it, gently patting down the soil around it. And suddenly one of those hands was sharply snatched up.
A flash of metal in the summer sunlight... my father's hands pulled up until he was standing. The pure steel was so out of place against his tanned weathered hands.
He looked up into the face of a cop, who rattled off the rights in a serious tone as he handcuffed my father. I saw his mouth moving; I heard the drone of his voice; but the words were lost to shock. I heard Rosa sob behind me and instinctively put a hand on her shoulder.
"It's probably just a mistake," I said. "They're not arresting him for real, you'll see. He and Mom will get it straightened out."
Another sob escaped her. I couldn't be sure, but I thought I heard her say something. I was just about to ask her what when she said it again. And this time I caught it.
"She did it," she whispered through her tears. "She really did it."
I looked at her.
She was smiling.

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