The Remained

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The Remained

Postby TiffanyLuckey » Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:46 pm

Breathing in the cool, autumn air of Piqua called up memories of late-night family bonfires and early-morning walks to the bus stop. It made me think of coldness dissolving around me as mom pulled the covers up to my chin before kissing me goodnight. It made me think of dad side-hugging me as he balanced a cup of coffee in one hand before slipping out the door for work. Returning to the only real place I’d ever called home made me feel alive again.

I looked across the street at our old house, a two-story dwelling built in the late 1800s. The streetlight exposed the immensity of the neglect it had received. Paint had flaked away to reveal smoky-gray boards. Window sills had eroded around the edges. Shingles had blown off and the porch roof appeared to sag in the middle. Dusty windows were naked without treatments. The front door looked battered, and the doorknocker hung askew.

Dad certainly would have disapproved. He’d worked hard to upkeep the house. His age never deterred him from getting the ladder out and climbing up on the roof to do some caulking. Painting didn’t present any problems, either. He would never ask for my help, but when I stopped by and saw him working, I usually pitched in.

He loved the house until the day he died. Mom loved it, too. She remained there until her death about twelve years ago. I’d tried my best to go back and help her maintain the place, but my responsibilities got in the way more often than not. I had a wife and home of my own, a career, and a child on the way. I couldn’t be everything to everybody.

I moved up the porch steps and to the front door. The condemned sign in the window made me feel depressed. I turned the knob and flinched in surprise that it gave. Pushing the door open, I stepped into the swimming darkness. The floor felt sturdy, but there may have been some weak places here and there. I wished the electricity worked, but I knew it wouldn’t. Even if it did, I couldn’t turn on any lights. The fewer who knew I lived there, the better.

I had no reason to return to my wife and son. Her new man was certainly a charmer. They were much happier with him. My own son had said so. So much for that thicker than water nonsense.

I went into my old bedroom and found a chair by the window. I wondered if someone had been in here recently. If so, I would make sure they found accommodations elsewhere.

The next thing I knew, daylight was streaming through the window and pressing warm against my face. There came the sound of footsteps on the gritty living room floor. Then, I heard two men talking. I leaned forward, listening.

Righteous anger fueled within me, making my heart beat fast and my hands tighten into fists. I felt like a housecat threatened by a stray tom lurking outside. The men had orders from the city to bulldoze the property.

I stood fast, grabbed the chair in one hand used the other to push open the door. Both men screamed. Running at them, I slung the chair across the room. It crashed against the wall. The men bolted outside.

The next day, the same men returned with their superior. As they approached the porch, I heard one of them say, ”The door opened by itself and a chair came flying at us! I’m not going back in there. I’ll quit first!”

Only two men came in, and they didn’t see me watching. I rushed at them and put my hands around the boss’ neck and squeezed as hard as I could. His eyes bulged and his arms flailed at the air, not hurting me. The other man screamed and ran out the door. Loosening my grip, I shoved the man backwards. Gasping and coughing, his face red, he ran out the door and I haven’t seen anyone since.

This is my home, and if anyone tries to take it … well, I don’t know what I will do. Lurking in the gloom and the darkness is where I belong. And even as this house decays around me, I will remain.

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