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14 Manor Drive
My Nana always bakes the cake, a white cake with white icing, and a bitter chocolate drizzle that balances the flavors. If she doesn’t bake that cake, and goes for something different, it’s never the same. It never tastes so sweet and delicate in my mouth when I take small bites, and you rarely find lines of icing missing in the morning from the fingers of my insomnia ridden family. If she were to bake a different cake the vanilla ice cream in the freezer would probably last a little longer, and the milk wouldn’t need to be replaced so quickly. My little cousins would not have such sticky fingers, and my Nana probably wouldn’t need to take so many naps.
When the cake is done all that’s left is little pieces of the heavy, dark chocolate that small children discarded on their way to the store bought jungle gym that is actually very beautiful if you would just look.
If you wait long enough, for the rest of the family to leave, you may find my Nana eating the chocolate, alone, in peace. You may hear her terrible cough as well, and if you suggest a doctor’s visit she will tell you no, that it’s nothing but a cough. If you wait a while longer you’ll probably see my Nana feeding her dogs little pieces of the cake, and if you tell her that it’s dangerous or unhealthy for an animal she will probably tell you that it’s just a little piece and the dogs will be fine.
If you are to walk out of the kitchen you will find objects strewn across the floor, crying children, and probably a sister or a mom or a wife trying to close their eyes for as long as possible. If you continue your journey through the dining room with all the books plastering the walls, you’ll find a living room with a bunch of rambunctious five year olds. If it’s a good day a few of the children may be asleep, and the rest will be so fixated on the television that they won’t notice you peek your head through the glass door. A dog might lift its head, and narrow its all-knowing eyes, but nothing more than that. If it’s a really good day one of the children might let you snuggle with them, and eventually you will both fall asleep to Rescue Heroes or another show that you are not familiar with, because when you were five, it was a whole different television era.
If you continue upstairs you will probably find at least one teenager, or adult in Nana’s office, Facebooking or uploading photographs, a silent escape from love and every other force that keeps Nana’s house on the ground. When you look out the window you may see a child swinging, or going down the green slide, looks of sheer enjoyment streaked across their childish faces. They are not worried about what happens when they’re at the bottom of the slide, and there’s nothing left.
You may find a dog or two lounging in the back of the yard, wondering why there are so many people crowding their corners, and why their humans seem so far away.
On your way out of the office you may see a book with an interesting spine, but you probably won’t pick it up, or even give it a second look. You’ll gently close the door because upstairs is quiet, a place where small children rest, and adults don’t acknowledge one another when passing by. You may look in a couple bedrooms, fans blowing cool air in your face, making the small whirring noise, a father taking a nap.
You walk down the stairs and see all the photos on the walls, different children, different years, different places. The kids are still watching the TV, and the kitchen is still a mess. The adults are still on the patio. You are not yet an adult, but you’re not a child either. You are surprised at what you see. The two sisters who resent and loathe one another are talking, and one aunt has her purple wig on. Everyone looks tired, and worn out, but happy enough.
You know that in a couple of months someone else will be missing so you laugh and smile right now because it’s the luckiest you will ever be. You will walk down the stairs and an aunt or a mother might give you a hug. Nana will be sitting in her big, green, Adirondack chair. Someone will be taking photographs, and you will probably hear an older brother pushing a smaller cousin on a swing set.
A feeling of nostalgia for something you never had sets in. You see the whole family, each person that matters, except for one, sometimes two, maybe three. It may be aunt or uncle, a brother, a father, or a mother, just another person missing, hardly talked about.
The nostalgia is gone, and now all you feel is emptiness, waiting for someone you love to leave again, waiting for that pain that creeps in and sets itself in to your stomach and your blood, the kind of pain that sneaks up on you and hides in your muscles.
If you wait long enough for the rest of the family to leave, you may find my Nana eating the chocolate, alone, in peace. If you wait long enough you may find me, trying not to wait anymore.