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Dream

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Where I live, the houses are ugly and plain. My home looks pretty much like any other (except the Joneses next door – their front door was stolen a while back and they haven’t got the money to replace it). Every night I can hear the wailing of police sirens from my attic bedroom. Standing outside my house, the smell of burning rubber hangs in the air from when the Baxters’ decided to burn tyres in their backyard last Saturday night. My front lawn is populated with a rich variety of weeds, fighting for space among the grass that tickles your knees when you walk through it. The paint is peeling off the tattered front door, exposing the bare wood beneath.
Inside the house, the hall is damp and claustrophobic. Clutter overflows from every surface; my brother’s muddy football boots lie in the corner, waiting to be cleaned. They’ve been there for nearly a month now.
To the left of the hall is the living room. It is dingy and dark, reflecting the view of the neighbourhood outside. Stained, raggedy sofas that are practically falling apart loom like sleeping monsters out of the gloom. My dad found them in a skip. Our old yet reliable Phillips TV is blaring out to an empty room (we can’t switch it off because the off button is missing and the dog ate the remote a month or so ago). With the amount of money we spend on electricity nowadays it’s no wonder we’re struggling to pay the water bill.
Back across the hall, our patchwork kitchen is cheerful and friendly. Made up of a myriad of different colours and styles of kitchen unit my dad gets cheap from work, it is certainly “unique” – or a “complete tip”, as my mum likes to call it when she’s in one of her moods. On one wall is our paint sample collage, as my parents desperately try to find a paint colour that matches all the different kitchen units. Blue, red, pink, yellow, green... in nearly every shade available at our local Wickes. Meanwhile, they’re yet to decide, and the multi-coloured mural seems here to stay.
That’s it for downstairs, unless you count the ‘Black Hole’. That’s what we call the kitchen cupboard. All manner of junk, useless rubbish and school reports end up there, forgotten forever until some brave person dares to open the door. They soon learn from that mistake, after being buried in a mound of debris that inevitably comes tumbling out of the cupboard when the door is opened. We don’t talk about it much.
The stairs are creaky and feel like they are going to give way underneath your weight as you carefully walk up them. The landing upstairs has four doors leading off it, a grimy carpet and peeling wallpaper. It is in a state of permanent darkness, as the light fitting is broken and there are no windows. My dad is supposed to be fixing the light, but he never seems to get round to it. The door on the left leads to my parent’s room, which is barely large enough for their double bed and a narrow space around it. My brother’s room is across the hall, but I don’t really go in there. The smell of smelly feet and mould emanating from under the door is enough to ward off all but the very brave, or stupid.
The only bathroom is grimy and cluttered. With a view over the front garden that is less than inspiring, the room itself is even less so. Mouldy tiles that are cracked in places, an ancient shower that you have to bang really hard to get it to choke out water (and even then the water is often brown and disgusting), and a bathroom sink cluttered with shaving cream, body soap, deodorant, toothpaste, moisturiser... all the toiletries that accumulate when you’re living in a house with three other people. My brother broke the mirror last week, so now when you look at yourself in it, your face is broken up into about twenty different segments. The heating is also broken, so once you;ve done what you have to in the bathroom, it doesn’t make sense to linger.
Behind the fourth door are a set of steep stairs, climbing upwards at a sharp incline. At the top, a trapdoor allows access to the room beyond. My room. My haven from the rest of the world, where I can finally be myself. Where I can spend time away from a family that doesn’t understand me. The room isn’t really that large, and a lot of the floor space has ceilings that are too low to be usable. But I got my dad to install me some bookshelves there, running all the way around the room. And then I filled them with books. Fiction, non-fiction, I didn’t care. Whatever I could lay my hands on. My favourites are the medical journals, with their detailed descriptions of the inner workings of the human body.
My parents always thought I was strange when I was growing up. Instead of posters of pop-stars and boy bands, my walls were plastered with educational posters about the body, labelling the different organs and their jobs. I had memorized every bone in the body, as well as the Periodic Table, by the time I was 12. A freak, they called me. They just didn’t understand. My parents both left school when they were 16. My dad to become an apprentice carpenter, my mum to be a secretary. She quit her job when she had my brother, and now works part time in Morrisons. My brother left school last year too, when he was 16, to join my father’s firm. I know they expect me to leave too, but I don’t want to. I want to go on and do A-Levels, then go to university and become a doctor. When I told my mum that she laughed, and said the best someone from our estate could do, would be to become a nurse, and even then that’s pushing it.
That’s why my room is so important to me. Out of my whole house, it is the only room I really feel at home in. I can sit there, in my window seat, looking out over the ramshackle rooftops of the neighbouring houses, dreaming of the look on my parent’s faces when I graduate from university in seven or eight years time. I can press my face to the glass, blocking out the traffic noise, screams and shouts from the street below, and just imagine.



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