What's the best way to remember your anniversary? You have to read on to find that out.
Prompt for September 2016: Write a story about a character who either absolutely LOVES or absolutely HATES special occasions and what that character experiences leading up to a milestone birthday or anniversary.
Vincent stood at the entrance to his living room. He was slowly scanning it. Only a few boxes cluttered the floor of an otherwise empty room. “I still can’t believe we had to foreclose on our house.”
“We were doing pretty good until Helen got cancer. I had no choice but to get a second mortgage. Then a third.” Vincent stopped scanning and closed his eyes. When he opened them he could see the living room as it used to be.
The couch lined the back wall. On either side of the couch were two recliners. Halfway down both side walls were where the loveseats were. In front of all the furniture was a big screen television. “We have had this house for almost fifty years.”
Suddenly, the room was full of family when they were children. Vincent smiled as he watched what was going on. Including another him reclining in one of the recliners.
As he entered the kitchen Vincent glanced back into the living room. All he could see was the side of the television. Vincent started walking through the kitchen. “Helen did all the cooking in here. When Connie and Lance got older they would help her in the kitchen too.”
A clear pathway led between the living room and the dining room. Vincent could see the dining room as he walked down that pathway. Cabinets and countertop were on his left side. A large oblong island lay on the edge of the pathway on the other side. Behind the island, Vincent could barely see the top half of the refrigerator, stove, and dishwasher.
Vincent smiled as he saw Helen working on dinner. He and their children constantly disturbing and interrupting her. “Helen as the best cook in the world.”
The dining room was completely empty except for a few boxes there too. Vincent stared at the indentures in the floor where a china cabinet stood on the other side of it. He also looked down at the indentures into the carpet where the table once stood.
“This was where we ate all of our meals together. Helen insisted on it. That was great until they started becoming teenagers. Then it didn’t happen as often.”
“If I remember correctly it actually started when they were preteens. Are they still called that or is it tweens now? I can’t remember. They used to be called preteens and they were ten to twelve years old. Then it was nine. Now I think it’s eight.” Vincent closed his eyes. “I’m rambling again.”
When he opened them he saw the dining room as it used to be. Vincent saw that he was back at the head of the table. Helen sat at the opposite end. The four children occupied the chairs on either side of them.
Vincent carefully walked down the steps leading into the basement. About halfway down he stepped over one step. “I almost forgot about that broken step I haven’t had a chance to fix.”
As Vincent continued on he glanced between the steps. All he could see was the hookup for the washer/dryer. “That’s where the washer and dryer used to be.”
When Vincent reached the bottom of those steps he looked at the rest of that half of the basement. It looked like one big open concrete room now. Straight across those steps was an open door. Vincent walked through that doorway. “We fixed this bedroom up for Scott when he became a teenager and felt he was too old to live with his little brother.”
Once again, Vincent closed his eyes. After he opened them he saw Scott’s bedroom again. Scott was there too. He was doing homework at his desk.
After Vincent left that bedroom he walked the edge of the wall to a door that led to a stairway and the backyard. “This was where our children and grandchildren spent a lot of time playing.”
Vincent started walking toward a small playhouse by the back fence. As he did he looked at a large tree next to it. Then he looked up at the treehouse in that tree. Which wasn’t much more than a frame with a floor and roof.
Next to that tree against the side fence stood the play area. Vincent also looked at that. It had a swing, a slide, a teeter-totter, a sandbox and a jungle gym.
Suddenly Vincent smiled as he saw the backyard full of his children and grandchildren again. “I understand the new owners have children and grandchildren. I’m sure they will like it as much as we did.”
The playhouse was as large as the dining room. Vincent could see that as he stepped into it. He started to walk around that room. “That’s where the table and two chairs use to be.” Vincent pointed to the center of the room. “I think that’s where Connie’s toy chest was.” he pointed toward one side window. “Becky’s toy chest was there. I think.” Vincent pointed to the other side window.
Vincent smiled as Connie and Becky suddenly appeared there. Connie was sitting at the table playing with her Ken and Barbie dolls. Becky was violently going through her toy chest looking for something. Whatever it was she hadn’t found it yet. Her toys were flying everywhere.
“That playhouse was originally built for the boys. When Scott and Lance got older they gave it to Connie and Becky. They said it was because playhouses were for girls. Treehouses were for boys. So we, the boys and me, built them that treehouse.”
Vincent walked into his house and walked up the stairs right in front of that door. He stopped at the top of those stairs to look down his second story hallway. Two opened doors lined left sides of that hallway and one on the right. Vincent walked down and entered the single door. He entered the master bedroom from the size of it.
Slowly scanning it Vincent stopped when he saw the indentures where the furniture used to be. “We spent a lot of time in this room.
“The kids spent a lot of time here too. Every time there was a storm or a blackout they would all come running in here.” After Vincent opened his eyes once again all the furniture was there. Suddenly a storm began. A few seconds later his children started arriving. They ran right through him to get on the bed with him and their mother.
Connie and Becky lived in the bedroom right across from the master bedroom. The door wasn’t quite right across from it, though. Vincent had to walk out of his master bedroom bathroom, out his bedroom door and walk down a little before he entered into his daughters' bedroom.
Vincent stood at the entrance to an empty room. Only a few boxes remained in there. “This was where Connie and Becky lived their childhood. At least they did until Becky became eleven and thought she was getting too old to share a room with an eight-year-old.”
“Connie’s bed and belongings were on that side. Becky’s was on this side.” Vincent first nodded at the left side and then the right side.
Suddenly Connie and Becky was in that now furnished room. Connie was laying on her bed. Becky was sitting on hers. They were talking about something.
Using the bathroom between the two bedrooms Vincent walked into the boys' bedroom. “Patrick and Scott lived out their childhood in this room. Because they were the oldest by three years they did have their own bedrooms. When Becky got out of the nursery next to our bedroom after a couple of years we had to pair up the boys. Neither one of them liked that.”
“When Scott became a teen he no longer wanted to live with an eleven-year-old. That’s when he moved into the basement. Up until then, they were pretty typical brothers. They were always fighting.”
“I remember one of their fights. At least I think it was one. But they could have been just playing roughly. I’m still not sure about that.”
Vincent remembered it all now. He could see both of them going at it in a now furnished bedroom. “I tried to break it up. The only thing that I accomplished by that is getting knocked over one the beds by a couple of preteens.”
About halfway between the two doors in the hall, Vincent pulled down a trap door. A ladder slid down. Vincent climbed up into the attic that looked like an attic that hadn’t been used in years. Dimly lit from the three small windows up there and a fog cobweb. “I can’t believe we let Becky live up here.”
“Since she insisted on having her own room, it was either the attic or the basement. Neither one of us wanted her in the attic, but it was better than the basement. Especially during her teenage years. There’s only one way in and out of here.” Vincent glanced down the ladder behind him. “Getting boys in here was impossible. Even though, she did try to do it a few times.
When Vincent returned to looking at the attic it now looked like the bedroom that Becky lived it. She was standing in front of a full-length mirror admiring herself at different angles. “She must have been about twelve then.”
At the bottom of the stairs in front of the front door, there was the entrance into the family room. Which Vincent just walked into. Like all the other rooms it was empty except for a few boxes. Vincent started walking around that room. No pattern to his walking.
“The family really made this room a family room. At least we did when the children were younger. We spend a lot of time here together.” Vincent stopped and looked at the dining room through a narrow hallway. He also glanced at the stairs leading to the basement from the open door within that hallway.
Vincent turned and continued walking. The furniture was there again. So was the family. They were all sitting in chairs or laying on the floor in front a big screen television. The room looked exactly like the living room except for the style of furniture and the size of that room. As Vincent near the front window behind the television, he suddenly stopped with a shocked look on his face.
Helen was taken out of a car in the driveway and placed in a wheelchair was Vincent came up to her. “What are you doing here. There are only a few boxes left. I told you I would take care of it.”
“Our children insisted that I come here. They say they have a big surprise for us.” Just then six cars parked in the street. A large moving van pulled up to the house next to them.
As the children and grandchildren started piling out of the cars and walking up toward Vincent and Helen they began shouting Happy Birthday Daddy/grandpa and Happy Anniversary Mom/grandma and dad/grandpa. They each said it slightly different but it was the same statement.
With everything that’s been going on, I forgot it’s my birthday today. I also forgot it’s our anniversary today. That’s why we got married on my birthday. So that something like this would never happen. Why did I forget this one of them all? After all, it is our fiftieth one.
“What are you kids doing here?” Helen and Vincent started getting hugs and kisses.
“We should be doing this at our new place.” Vincent and Helen were getting mobbed by family.
“You are at your new place.” Lance pulled out a set of keys as everyone started shouting Happy Birthday and Anniversary again.
Connie snatched the keys from Lance then gave them to her father. “We are the ones that bought this house.”
Word Count = 1,978.