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Rated: E · Short Story · Family · #820809
Writer's Cramp Winner for 2/28/04
New Prompt: Write a poem or story using: a goose, snowdrops and an apple pie.

1052 words

Coming Home

It was cold. Not bitter cold, but cold enough that you turned your collar up against the wind and thought of warm things like a log fire in the fireplace or a steaming cup of tea warming your chilled hands. It had been a long time since he had looked upon this house. It had faded somewhat from his memory but now that it was here in front of him those memories grew stronger with each passing minute.

The house sat back from the street and there was a long brick sidewalk up to the front porch. In the yard were two large weeping willow trees. He looked for the rope swing that had been there when he was a boy but it was gone. He remembered how along the sidewalk in the spring, as the snow melted, there were crocuses and daffodils blooming. For a moment he could see his mother on the porch waving to him just like she used to when he was coming home from school. Wiping her hands in her apron she would hug him and ask him how school had been, then they would both go to the kitchen for milk and some cookies. Chocolate chip, if he was lucky.

The wind rustled the fallen leaves and he watched as a gray squirrel picked its way across the yard diligently looking for nuts for the winter. Buck, his dog would never have tolerated the squirrel’s presence, but he knew Buck was long gone and the squirrel could roam the yard without fear now.

He scuffed his feet on the curb of the street just like he had done a thousand times as a young boy when he didn’t want to go home. He would stop here at the curb as if there was an invisible force field that kept him from going further. It was usually when his report card had gone home or when he had been caught doing something wrong. He wasn’t afraid of being beat or anything. His parents weren’t like that. He just didn’t want to face them. He knew he disappointed them and he loved them too much to see that look on their faces, so he stood there scuffing his shoes on the pavement, unable to move. Eventually his sister would come out and take his hand and lead him into the house. They would face his parents together and his sister would defend him. She would spend the rest of the night trying to cheer him up. Eventually she would get him to laugh and then everything would be all right.

Now here he was once again scuffing his shoes on the pavement. He half expected to see his sister walking towards him with her big smile. He knew that wouldn’t happen. He finally walked down the sidewalk to the porch and front door. Still he couldn’t bring himself to go in. He walked around the outside of the house to the backyard. It was here that his mother grew her snowdrops. They were planted along the edge of the yard against the trees. Their pretty white flowers welcomed spring every year. They had been the first flowers he could see from his room every morning. He thought of them as his own. For years now he had looked from his one window hoping to see snowdrops but he never did. Now it was fall so there were no snowdrops to see. He wished there were.

At the end of the yard was his dad’s workshop where he worked on anything the neighbors brought him to fix. He missed his dad. He missed the smell of his aftershave and he roughness of his hands. He missed the gentle smile and his twinkling eyes. He should have spent more time with him but he hadn’t. He hadn’t even been there for the funeral. He hadn’t been there for any of the funerals, his mother or his sister’s. He tried to put it from his mind. It couldn’t be undone now. Still, if he could do it over…he thought.

The pen next to the workshop was where his mom kept the geese. She always had geese ever since she was a young girl in Russia. She called them “tashi’s.” She told him once that was goose in Russian. He wondered what had happened to the geese after she had died. He hadn’t been here so he didn’t know.

He took the key from his pocket and opened the backdoor. A bit hesitant, as if he was about to release all the ghosts, he entered the kitchen. Nothing had changed much. The same cabinets and table from when he was growing up were still there. He set his duffel on the table, unzipped his jacket and slowly walked though the downstairs. All the furniture was still the same, just as he remembered it. In the living room was his dad’s chair. He thought about sitting in it but choose the couch instead. After all, it was his dad’s chair.

Why had they left it to him, he wondered? His dad and mom had passed on a number of years ago and the house had become his sister’s. Two weeks ago, he got a letter from an attorney telling him that his sister had died. Cancer. The house was his now. His eyes began to tear. He hadn’t even been there for his sister after all the times she had been there for him. One mistake, just one mistake he had made and it had taken him away from the people he loved most, taken him away from the only people that loved him.

He walked upstairs and down the hall to his old room. The door was slightly open. Standing in the entrance he pushed it the rest of the way to the wall. Nothing at all had changed. The same bedspread that was on his bed the day they took him away was still there. All his possessions were still there. On the bed was his mother’s afghan. He picked it up and wrapped it around himself burying his nose in its folds. It still smelled of his mother’s perfume. He closed his eyes and he could see her baking in the kitchen, he could smell the apple pie…
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