The room is crammed with furniture and ornaments, large display cases filled with porcelain children, porcelain babies, hundreds of small smiling faces staring out from behind glass doors. On the walls are photographs of cousins, nieces and nephews, all the children of the family. I search the frames for images of myself as a child in vain. She took them down long ago and I should know better than to imagine her finally relenting and returning them to their places. After all, I couldn’t find it in myself to forgive her, to expect her to have forgiven me in her final years would be hypocrisy of the highest order.
I move upstairs, my thoughts full of the one room I really want to see, stepping carefully over the stained carpets for fear of treading in something unpleasant. The animals are gone now, but mother’s menagerie still haunts these rooms, as if at any moment the air might fill with the cries of the multitude of animals she allowed to overwhelm her home. I lost track of the names and the species long before I left her alone in this house. My mother’s abundant affection for those beasts only served to highlight its absence for me.
I stand and stare at her bedroom door for a full ten minutes before I am able to move closer to it. The one room in the house I was forbidden to enter. She caught me trespassing when I was fourteen, before I had chance to steal a glimpse inside the locked heavy oak wardrobe. Entering now, I half expect her to materialise behind me as she did then, her pale face cadaverous long before her death, but I only glimpse myself in the mirror of her dilapidated vanity stand. I look more and more like her as the years pass.
The wardrobe is as tall and imposing to me as it was as a child, looming like a villain from a black and white movie, casting shadows for monstrous things to hide in. I pull the screw-driver from my handbag and quickly pry open the old lock, splitting the wood around the fitting with a crack. Inside is a collection of my mother’s faded dresses and tucked in at the base of the wardrobe are two boxes. The first is the worn packaging from a child’s doll, the other a blue toy chest. I hesitate, unsure of which to open first.
9 Responses to Coming Home
Oh Dan… you can't leave us hanging like that! What a beautifully written story. So many questions unanswered. You've been writing too much hint fiction, or drinking too much coffee 🙂
Dan: What are you doing to us, you #FlashTease? You get us to the brink with just enough back story to make us care about this guy and want to know what's next and then just dangle us in front of a choice. Let's see … the blue toy chest, the blue toy chest, open THAT one.
Ohh…I'm feeling creeped out in anticipation, then left on the verge of the ultimate scare… Great story!
Vivid imagery, Dan. I could see (and smell) each detail you've written. Well done. Like the others, you've left me hanging, wanting to know more. It looks like that was your intent, and you succeeded wonderfully.
It was beautifully written, Dan, but the ending! You big tease. 😉
My favorite line:
"pry open the old lock, splitting the wood around the fitting with a crack." It says it all!
I am a bit creeped out at this point… if you don't open SOMETHING next week I might not come back.
Ok that was a bold faced lie. Please let me know… you can email me, k?
The pacing of this perfect. It allows the reader to move along with the main character as she slowly moves through the house.
Interesting that the mother still kept the two items your character wanted so much – after so many years. Some form of relenting? I wonder.
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