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Red Door This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.


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Countless boxes are loaded into the trucks. We are practically professional movers by now. After five moves in eight years, we definitely learned how to clear out a house. While I am packing my room I have my James Taylor play list on loop. I memorize every song from “Fire and Rain” to “Up On the Roof.” The songs play in my head in order now, and I do not have the energy to shake them out. I wonder where we will go to school next year. I had promised my friends that we would drive back up every day, but I know that is not at all possible. We bought our car when I was six; one could say it is on its last leg. More than anything, I hope the people who buy our house will appreciate the work we put into it.

The moving trucks pull out of their spots in the front yard, leaving long dents in the grass. It is mid-summer; the house is hot and sticky from having all of the doors open. From my window seat perch I can see tendrils of steam rising from the long asphalt driveway. As I look through the window I immediately have a flashback. I remember cracking the windows open on summer nights so I could hear the frogs in the creek. I used to think they were crickets until I listened closely. The strong bass of a bullfrog would ring through the trees, and the smaller ones would follow suit. Sometimes there would be complete silence, and then the conductor would wake the masses, sending their voices soaring through the night.

I stand up and regard my empty room. As I pace about, my footsteps echo. I remember when the paint on the walls was still fresh. I wanted my walls to be a pale yellow, and the ceiling to be peach-colored. We had hired our friend Dewey to paint for us. His radio was set on the local country station. I remember him singing along to George Strait’s “Give It Away,” providing a commentary between every line.

I walk out of my bedroom, shooting a last glance over my shoulder. As I amble down the staircase the steps creak much louder than normal. I recall bright Sunday mornings. The smell of homemade chocolate chip pancakes would waft up the stairs. I would always sleep too long, and race down the stairs five minutes before we had to leave for church. I reach the bottom of the staircase. I hear James Taylor crooning in my ear “Just keep your poor head together, now.”

I catch a glimpse of the front door. I remember standing in Ace Hardware and picking out a rusty fire engine red color from the Colonial Williamsburg palette. We swung the door wide open on a spring afternoon. We laid down drop cloths and turned up the radio. The sweet smell of the outdoors mingled with the paint. It created a sharp, distinct aroma. It lingered in the air long after the cans were closed.

I step up to the breakfast room windows and notice the empty dog fence. Our new house does not have a substantial yard, so we had to give her away. I would walk her around outside on brisk fall days without her leash. My breath would come out in clouds as I followed her. She would pounce suddenly, scaring every living creature on the lawn with her one-hundred-and-twenty-pound self. She would turn around occasionally to see if I was keeping up, then gallop ahead, clumsily tripping over her own paws.

Our house was on thirteen acres of land, seven of which were filled with spindly oak trees. The boys built winding trails in the back yard leading to the creek. For the buyers though, it would all mean nothing. The trails would be an added bonus. The yard would be more maintenance. The colorful bedrooms would not be to their taste. They would probably never open their windows at night. I imagine all of this as we drive away. I watch it disappear through the back window of the car, the faded yellow house with the red door.



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