The Return

March 25, 2009
I had the oddest dream last night. It was about something I had somehow managed to forget, but now that it is back I just can’t let go of it, it just won’t leave my mind. As a man of 73 and in darkest trenches of terminal brain cancer, it seems now that I can forget anything. Even my name seems to disappear from my memory at times, and my house seems to grow and shrink. I knew many years ago when this disease was born that my end would be soon, but I managed to hold on for awhile… for my family.
Now I even forget who my family is at times, and I know my end is near. I just must get this off my mind before I pass or I will never be able to rest. I need my family to learn something. That’s why we read history, right? To learn from our past. I want my family to know that some things just cannot be forgotten. I don’t want them to make the same mistake that one of their ancestors did, I don’t want them to scar my distant children like he did to me.

In my dream, I was returning to my old home. It was so much bigger than the one I have spent my later days in, and much more comforting too. I could not understand why I ever sold it, why I had ever moved to a smaller one. It seems my memory is dying from recent to past, so memories of the place I called home remain, from the place I had raised my kids. I can barely remember the plane crash that took them away from me several years ago.
I remember I was in a car that was slowly driving down my old street, and soon my old friends’ houses crossed my vision… and then, suddenly, they were all out on the street-all my old neighbors and friends, reaching out to the car. It was like they all wanted to carry me home, bring back the past. I had loved this neighborhood. Why did I ever move?

As the car continued the down the road, I noticed the detail on the faces. Was that baby Johnny? Was that Billie’s sister? So much has changed, all the children were married and had kids. I remember that moment so clearly, every detail of the faces, every pimple on the teens. Yes, this was my true home. This was my street. Why would I leave?

As we continued down the street, my house came into view. One of Joanne’s kids, a redheaded girl in her mid twenties, reached out and opened my door. Before long dozens of hands reached out for me. The redheaded girl’s husband pulled me out and soon I was surrounded by the locals. They carried me off the street and onto the sidewalk at the base of my house. The path had been repaved, now white stone, and carried me to the white doorway. The house looked brand new, the paint looked fresh, the grass cut short as a golf course, the shrubs photo-quality hedges… it was home. Everything felt so right. What could have ever caused me to move?

My friends, new and old, carried me through the hall and into the rooms. There was my old kitchen, stainless steel refrigerator, sink, and stove brand new. The living room, filled with all the most modern technology. And what a huge screen on the TV! Someone has been tending my home well.
They continued to carry me to the stairs. They seemed taller than I remember, and for the first time in the house I noticed something out of place. Just about halfway up, there was a major crack in the sideboard. The paint seemed chipped. Well, I guess they are yet to work on the upstairs, these new owners.
Up the stairs I went for the first time in many, many years. All the faces were still grinning, but something smelled sinister in the upper aroma. As I continued to pass the upper rooms I noticed many changes… My kids’ room was now an abandoned office. My room was bare. What was my bed was now a dark shadow on the dust-shrouded floor where I had spent so many hours. My dresser was a stack of wood crates, the top cracked open. Lying in front of a crate was a crowbar. My vision is nearly gone, but suddenly all became clear… and I noticed text on the crate: Union. On the one below, was a picture of my mother. Below that, my son. My heart stopped. Sweat came from my shriveled up pores, how long since that has happened?
Now we reached my parents’ room… and along with it, my memory was coming back. But in what way? Something about my parents. Something made me leave. Something involving my parents twisted my life badly.

Now my neighbors made a sharp room into the room. Suddenly, the sun crashed into the sea and the moon rose from the great beyond. Something wasn’t right. I tried to scramble away, some things are better not known, but I was paralyzed. Their grins got wider, and their faces glowed red. I heard an evil chuckle from under the floorboards as the wood posts of the bed rotted away, termites appearing every second. The paint on the wall dripped into the wood trenches at the foot of the walls, and the partial carpet covering the far side of the room faded away. I tried to scream, but found that I couldn’t.
My body-bearers carried me further on to the great closet. The sides of the closet door were no longer parallel, but somehow the bottom had grown wider than the top! Johnny, who seemed so innocent outside, ran up to the door with a demonic stride and threw it open. When I saw the dark silhouette of my father right below the clothing line, I remembered.

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