Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Family Home (05/29/08)
TITLE: A Unique Love
By Lynda Schultz
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Bailey said it was too late for worrying. He’d shook hands on the deal and sold me away. The new owners would deposit thirty-seven dollars and eleven cents a month in the bank until I was paid off. I wasn’t to worry though; he’d only be a block over. If I needed help, I could give him a shout. I think he was kidding. Houses creak, groan, even whisper sometimes, but they never shout.
Anyway, they came: A little girl in pigtails and glasses along with an older boy, serious and quiet. She took my pink room, the one upstairs that faced the street. The kid squealed with delight when she saw it. I have to confess that her enthusiasm made me feel somewhat appreciated especially after Bailey had so abruptly abandoned me. The boy took the green room across the hall. Apparently, he was just thankful he didn’t have to share a bedroom with his sister anymore. But oh my aching staircase, the going up and the coming down of those two kids until they finally left home.
I can’t complain though, they grew up quietly. They were readers, content to rest in my grasp with a good book in their hands. The most raucous game they played was something called Kerplunkit, I think. Fortunately, the mom had thoughtfully put down a carpet so I wasn’t too shaken up with all the marbles bouncing on my hardwood.
The winters were getting hard on me by the time the family moved in. I was ever so grateful when the adults decided to close in my porch. It wasn’t winterized but at least all the new windows protected me from the worst of those frigid, frost-crackling temperatures.
The little girl convinced her parents to allow her to have a kitten. The beast roamed the neighbourhood most of the time, but I was not well pleased when her boyfriends came courting and left their marks on my back stoop. Long after she was gone, the dampness of the spring always brought back the nasty, acrid smell. On the plus side, it was kind of nice to hear the mewling of the newborn kittens coming from my lowest level. It was a signal that there was still the possibility of new life in the old man.
The child’s cries still resonate within my walls from the time when a weakling in a batch of kittens died. She had worked so hard to make it well. She gently placed the corpse in a shoebox lined with some soft cloth. Her daddy dug a hole under the cedar bush near my boy, the garage, and they held a brief service over the coffin before it was buried.
I did my best to make them happy, trying to prevent my bones from creaking when the kids, now teenagers, came in late and mom and dad were already in bed. I held the heat in the winter so that they would be warm, and breathed cool air around them in the summer so that the oppressive heat would not touch them while they were within me.
Life was a whole lot quieter when the kids grew up and left. They returned once in a while and I rejoiced in the added human warmth that they brought with them. Eventually, the old folks withered and fell silent. The pain of the children, now turned adults themselves, brought a great sadness to my heart.
During the winter after the mom had gone, I was alone. My heart functioned at a new low—just enough to keep my arteries from freezing. In the spring, the things that had been my family’s belongings went out my front door, piece by piece. I felt hollow, empty.
I remember well the day when my girl and boy (I have a hard time thinking of them as adults) did a “Bailey” and turned in the keys to my front door. She could not look at me lest the tears flow. But my many eyes watched her go. We would both enjoy new lives, but never again share that love and life that, for a time, was unique to us.
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