...Where The Heart Is This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   As I walked through the hallway leading to imy apartment, the sweet smell of rice pudding overcame me. Turning the key, I could think of nothing but the plump, juicy rice and raisins. I chewed slowly and carefully, making sure I savored every last bite. But when I opened the door, I was met instead with burning silence and tears flowing down my mother's face in small rivulets. I turned, suddenly upset and nervous, looking for a reason for her distress, and saw my brother throwing his clothes into a suitcase. I fought my mounting anxiety with all my strength, but my attempts were useless and the tears filled my eyes and began to fall. The air didn't smell sweet anymore and my mouth became dry and tasted sour and acrid. I knelt down at my mother's side to comfort her and understood when I saw the paper ... it had large creases as if it had been crumpled in someone's fist out of frustration and anger. It was pale white with big ugly letters, mostly D's and F's. Then I understood.

Although nothing was said, I could hear the loud yells and see the expression of disappointment, amazement and shame on her face when my brother loudly and angrily announced his departure. His voice was shaky and harsh; his language filled with hatred and swears. It was as if I were seeing through my mother's eyes ... the suitcase was a casket and the articles of clothing were bits of her soul tossed with fury and haste. And all I could do was weep, shed tears for my brother who was throwing his life away for his friends. Cry for, and with, my mother, sharing her helplessness and feeling of failure, understanding her shame and disappointment. It was hell trying to ignore the silence, like a dagger being stabbed repeatedly into me. Trying to ignore the smell of burning rice which filled the dense air was even worse. It was like trying to ignore the bitter taste in my mouth and the nauseous feeling in my stomach.

When I heard the loud slam of the door, I couldn't help but look up through the tears that blurred my vision. The door no longer looked bright and welcoming. The once shiny, polished wood looked dull and forbidding. It never did look joyful again. To this day, it looks grey and gloomy. When he left, my brother took all the cheerfulness and smiles he had always brought our home. I didn't see that smile for a long time and when I finally did, the teeth were yellow and brown, rotted and decayed for lack of attention. I no longer smelled the familiar, captivating scent of his cologne, Drakkar, which he had always splashed sparingly every morning on his neck and chest. He left me with no one to confide in, no one to trust, no shoulder to cry on, no ear to listen.

Every day after school I opened the door to my apartment and was overcome with the smell of a musty, dingy dungeon. I could hear the cries of the tortured souls, the pitiful moans of my mother heard distinctly above the rest. In the meantime, until we smelled his smell, saw his smile, heard his deep, masculine voice, our home was no longer our home. It was just a dismal dark place to sleep and eat. It was a prison where our spirits were being held hostage, where our once happy lives were trapped in the thick, flat, bleak walls. It was not a home. How could it be? It wasn't filled with those familiar smells a home has , the potpourri in the living room, the meat baking in the oven. It wasn't blessed with those sounds you normally hear in a home , the laughing, the talking , the things that met the eye were not those usually seen in a home , the coffeepot on the stove, the family picture in the living room. They say that "Home is where the heart is" and, if this is true, then our home was where my brother was, whether he was on the street, or in a store or somewhere in an alleyway. n


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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blackrose326 said...
Nov. 25, 2009 at 9:39 am
Amazing article. You have talent.
 
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