|I should be staying in a tent somewhere, Colin thinks, as he walks up the sidewalk toward the house. Somewhere in the wilderness, far away from here. But he can’t. The dorms are closed, so he can’t stay there, but he doesn’t own a tent and he’s not even sure where the wilderness is.
Colin steps up toward the porch. His feet drag, like the chain of Marley’s ghost is wrapped around his legs, weighing them down, pulling him backward, back down the steps, back down the sidewalk, back to school, back to his independence, back to where he is now an adult, can skip his 8:00 a.m. class anytime he wants and no one will say anything, can skip breakfast and no one will remind him incessantly that it’s the most important meal of the day.
Colin pauses at the front door. Should he ring the bell? He doesn’t live here anymore so he can’t just walk in, but he’s never actually rung this doorbell before. He turns the worn brass door handle, knowing that it won’t be locked. He pushes the door open.
Colin stands in the vestibule. He stares at the aquarium, still there on the parson’s table, the sword plant he placed in the gravel years ago now spreading upward through the tank, and Oscar, a flash of gold, still darting among its broad leaves. Why wouldn’t they have removed the tank the day he left for college?
Suddenly his mother is rushing down the hallway toward him, his father right behind and beaming over her shoulder. Behind his father billows the aroma of roasting turkey. Colin’s eyes close. He inhales. Sausage, bacon, and sage -- Pennsylvania Dutch dressing. Marley’s chain melts from his neck and evaporates before it hits the vestibule carpet in Colin’s home.
(Word count: 300)