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It was a blue house of no beauty, just faded boards and a tattered roof. The lawn was wild with prickly growth, a few straggling wildflowers offering the only soft color to the sun-bleached tangle.

The gravel driveway cut through the weeds like an oblivious tourist, unaware of the landscape it was interrupting. Weeds crept up to the edges and peered from its corners, curious, but only a few scouting tufts of ragged grass had braved the rocky soil.

The house, unlike the driveway, belonged. It was more like a savvy, returning visitor, not quite native, but accepted. It was blue, darker than the sky, dusty, peeling, and dry like the ground. The door was uninteresting, wood. The rooms behind it were just as unimpressive, just rooms and carpet, sage paint in the kitchen, tan paint in the bedrooms.
How could they have known, these sour-faced strangers with name brand clothes (showcasing the style ‘casual’ rather than actually being casual), that this house had been a glorious castle, a damp villain’s lair, a princess’s garden, and three knights’ mighty fencing grounds? How could they know that the purple stain across the wall (they marked it under ‘damage’) had been a five-year-old girl’s first attempt at art, that she had ran to her mama and proudly shown her the wall, look mama, I made you a pretty butterfly!?

Or that the scuffed floors were evidence of a great pirate battle, raging for hours up and down the stairs and through the playroom and out the door – how could their papa scold them when they let the door bang when the eldest was nobly refusing the pirate’s hat as his younger brothers cheerfully condemned him to the depths?

How could they see the lipsticked smiles in the cracked mirror, those sparkling faces, mother and daughter, as they made themselves pretty for their menfolk? They couldn’t. To them, the house was simply broken, not broken by someone.

Today, even with her husband gone and her three sons and her daughter grown, she couldn’t see the house she saw reflected in the two customers’ eyes. All she could see was her home, and the little feet that had walked and grown in it.

The only hope that consoled her as she signed her home away was of the new feet that would scuff the floors and the new fingers that would mark the walls. Her family had moved on, made room for new life. This was the way it had to be, the way it had always been.

And softly waving goodbye to memories of pirates and princesses on the stairs, she closed the door.
later


An manicured landscape of short, green grass, neat squares of sky blue flowers, and clean concrete walks nicely accented the sparkling hotel. It had 37 windows, 5 doors, and 2 pools. Only the owners remembered, in the unimportant recesses of their minds, that the productive business they ran had replaced a ramshackle, blue house. But they wouldn’t have recognized the old woman who walked by with her son on a chilly, December day, saw the hotel, and froze, staring at the building with stricken eyes. She never came again.

Somewhere behind one of the 37 perfect windows, a little girl trailed her finger on the misty glass. “Mama, look!” she laughed. “I made a butterfly…”





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TheRightToDream This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 25, 2009 at 2:45 am
Really moving piece of work. It goes to show how people will willingly tear apart memories just to fund their "casual" clothing. But, even in the places that they build, new memories are made...you're right, society is progressing, but there will always be memories. Keep writing! :)
 
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