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The house is empty as I step tentatively over the doorstep. White walls and sparkly windows gape at me as if I’m a display in a freak show. The hard boards of the floor are like ice under my feet, so unlike the cozy warm carpet from home. Except that’s not home anymore.
Now someone else is living in the little house by the highway. A different set of bare toes will curl in the moist earth of the miniature garden. A different nose will smell the familiar scent of exhaust on the air. A different set of eyes will watch the multitudes of shining new cars flash by in a whirl. Never again will I experience the easy happiness of my childhood home.
The new house is great. A big brick building in the middle of suburbia, what more could I ask for? I’ll have my own room and bathroom. The backyard is the size of a park. We’ll finally be able to get a puppy. Life will be perfect, right?
The French doors open onto a balcony over-looking the lawn. A straight hedge of bushes lines the border of the yard, trimmed once weekly to remove any sign of life or growth. I don’t step out, for fear of leaving prints on the horizontal plane of conforming grass.
I press my face against the cool windowpane and imagine the rosebushes from home. In a few months, they’ll be blooming, the color of the ripe sun on a summer day. They never grew well and they wilted fast, but for those few days at the beginning of June, the garden would be transformed.
I peel my face from the glass and wipe away the oblong smudge of my breath. My fingers leave five little circles on the window that slowly shrink and disappear. They are the first blemishes on this house of brick.
The door bangs open and Connor comes in, rolling his luggage in behind him. The wheels click twice as they travel over the curb of the doorstep. He doesn’t say anything as he enthusiastically drags his suitcase up the stairs behind him. At least one of us is happy to be here.
My feet trudge up the stairs to the landing above. There are three bedrooms here. I don’t care which one’s mine. I open the first door my hands can reach and walk inside. The room is empty, like all the others. I don’t know what I expected. The view out the window is pretty, I know it is, but I miss the simple ugliness of home. I miss the smell of bacon cooking and the peeling paint on the walls. My room had wallpaper. This room is white, flat, and emotionless.
I kneel by the window and look out onto the yard. There are no roses. I miss that.
The window slides effortlessly as I open it. My window at home squeaked as if it was in pain.
I reach my hand out and stroke the rough brick texture. My hand comes across something silky and alive. An ivy leaf. I feel the leaf between my fingers, like a polyester tablecloth. The smell of green grass and manicured hedges reaches my nose. I watch as a neighbor sets up a barbecue on his lawn. It’s not my home, but I smile.