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Under What Roof? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Reality has such bad timing. Just when you want to forget it exists, it comes along and "WHAM"smacks you straight across the face. Then your lip starts to quiver, and pretty soon the flood gates open up. As soon as that happens there's no stopping it. Even the most strong-willed person in the world has to listen to reality when it tells you that you're living in a fantasy. I'm not very strong-willed, and if anyone was watching me right now they could see signs that I have just had a visit from my "good friend" reality. I'm glad that there is no one here. I must look very juvenile lying sprawled on my floor, crying like a baby, with my face in my old stuffed rabbit.

I realize that the world is not coming to an end, and that I wasn't sentenced to a life of pain and anguish. Just because my situation is not as complicated and confusing as some people's doesn't mean that it can't hurt me. Thanks to reality I am fully aware of that, and I am also aware of the fact that I am overreacting. All this realization does is make me feel worse.

I never noticed how soft the rug in my room is before just now. Granted, it is ugly and smells funny like everything else that came with this disgusting old house, but it is very fluffy, despite the old pad underneath being almost completely worn away. My parents said they'll let me pick out a new carpet, and even repaint the room. I know they are just being nice, so I will stop complaining about having to move so far away from my friends and school and dance studio, and not to mention the house. My dad promised that during winter vacation we could go visit everyone, but he'll probably forget all about it by then.

What will school be like? I don't even want to think about it. I never had to be the "new kid" before. I can't believe that I have to deal with not knowing where to go, what to do, who to talk to. I've already had to deal with kindergarten, going into middle school was hard, and freshman year of high school was even harder still. Seniors aren't supposed to have to worry about that kind of stuff. They are supposed to be the ones with all the power. I am finally on top of the high school food chain, and I can't enjoy it.

New houses are so awkward. I don't know how to act when I feel like a guest in my own room. When you take a shower you put the soap back in the soap dish instead of the more easily accessible ledge. All of my dirty clothes are somehow ending up in the hamper, instead of on the floor, and I worry about breaking things a lot. Nothing feels like it belongs to us, but when you think about it, nothing does. Our other house was completely paid off. We, well, my parents, owned it. Here we don't own anything. We even get someone else's junk mail.

I'm still hugging my rabbit. I've had him ever since I was born, and he's a little dirty. I like him that way, because it's my dirt. I know that sounds stupid, but I connect every little piece of grime on this dumb bunny to myself as a child. I see all the stains on him, and as I touch them it's like touching a little piece of my past. The dirt ground into his head might be from the old sandbox, or a long-forgotten summertime excursion to the beach. The spot on his nose, well that's blue paint. I think the picture of Mommy in her new dress needed a few more minutes to dry. I don't care about his torn leg, in fact if my mother tried to sew it I'd protest. I love him just the way he is, even if he smells musty and old, a little like this house.

As I get up off the floor, I can feel the soft springy fibers of the rug against my cheek. I can't suppress a smile when I think about cleaning this house up. I have always been a person who loves a challenge, and this sure is it. The house is in a good area, but it's what you would probably call a "fixer-upper." That's what my parents call it. When all my friends asked me what the house was like, I told them it was a dump, only to be corrected by my parents saying "It's a fixer-upper, dear. All it needs are a few gallons of paint and some love." I told them if you add "a miracle" to that list then the house might have half a prayer.

Sometimes I feel bad for giving my parents a hard time about the house. It wasn't my dad's fault that his old job was eliminated, and the only other one his company had to offer was three states away. I suppose that I should be thankful for what I have. I mean, there are kids starving in Africa, right? I hate to say it, but I'm pretty sure that if those starving African kids were in my shoes they would be a little sad too.

My mother is unpacking the dishes into the cupboard. Plates banging against each other make such a nice sound. I have always wondered why people pay for wind chimes, when plates are readily available to everyone. I can hear her fairly well, considering she's all the way downstairs. Suddenly the sound of those plates brings me back. I am at the old house, and I'm in my old room. It's Sunday morning and Mom's making pancakes downstairs. Soon I'd get up and go down there, sit in the old kitchen, and look out the window into our neighbor's yard. Maybe their dog is out digging up their newly planted grass again then my "friend" reality kicks in again. Why can't he leave me alone?

I know that I'm not really at our first house, the house I grew up in. I just want to remember; is that such an unreasonable request? I don't think so. Why can't he leave me alone just long enough for me to remember? Then I hear it, soft at first, but then louder ... "How could you forget?" Then I hear it again, "How could you forget? You won't forget." Well, reality, my good friend, it looks like we're going to get along all right. Will you please just to remember to warn me a little before you spring up? Thanks. 1


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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