The House

my grandmother holding her poodle in front of the picture window at her house

Several years ago, I was passing through Anderson, California, where I spent most of my summers growing up.  I decided to go by and look at my grandmother's old house.  I really wanted to see if the people would let me look through the house, but when I got there I saw that the people had put up a tall fence.  I still probably could have asked them but I chickened out.  A couple of years ago, I started thinking about her house and the shape it might be in and I wrote a little story about what I imagined.  Here it is:

Finally, the exit.  After three hours of driving, I was finally here.  I turned on my blinker and merged off of the highway.  My stomach began to tense up.  My heartbeat quickened.  I was excited and nervous at the same time.  I could not believe I was about to do this.  I had wanted to do it so many times but just couldn’t get up the nerve.  What if the people living there did not want to let me in.  Surely, they would understand.

I drove through the main street of town.  Things had changed so much since I had been here last.  For a moment I was not sure I was even on the right road.  Then, out of nowhere, there was my street.  I put on my blinker once more and turned onto the still narrow road.  It’s amazing how some things never change. 

This town had grown so much but this little road was still stuck in 1982.  How did cars even make it down this road without colliding into oncoming traffic?  I was astounded that the road had never been widened.  I made my way down the little street consisting of three blocks.  It sure had a lot of twists for a short street. 

My pulse quickened.  I felt a little dizzy.  As I made my way around the last curve, I spotted the bushes and tall evergreens in the front yard.  I slowly made my way to the front of the house.  As I passed the trees, I could see there were no cars.  Then I saw the sign.  It slapped me in the face.

I parked my car and just sat there for a moment bewildered.  How could this happen- not to my house.  My throat was dry.  I could hardly swallow.  Finally, I managed to pry myself out of my car.  I stood there for a moment staring in disbelief.  The paint was peeling.  The front door was covered by a large piece of plywood.  My grandmother’s hummingbird feeder was swaying in the breeze.  There was a rather large cobweb hanging from it. 

 I looked at the sign again.  “CONDEMNED” ENTRANCE PUNISHABLE BY LAW.  I fought back the tears, but one escaped and ran down my cheek.  I walked down the driveway and between the house and garage.  I stood and peered into the back yard.  The boysenberry bushes were overgrown and shabby.  The grass was waist high.

 “What are you doing?”  I heard from behind me.  I nearly jumped out of my skin.

 I turned around and saw a tall man standing there with dark hair.  His clothes were dirty and wrinkled.  He was pulling off his gardening gloves.  I think he realized he gave me quite a start because the look on his face quickly turned from angry annoyance to remorse.

 “I…” my voice cracked.

 I swallowed hard and started again.

 “I’m sorry.  I just wanted to…” my voice trailed off as my gaze moved to the glass kitchen door.  The cabinet doors were hanging down, ready to fall at the slightest bit of encouragement.  The tears could be held back no more.  They came one after another, a river flowing from my eyes.  I looked at the man and tried once more.

 “I spent my summers and vacations here with my dad and grandmother.  I just wanted to…’

 The man put his hand up.  His face now held the look of pity, compassion, and understanding.

 “Take your time,” he said with a tight grim smile.

 With that, he turned and walked away, leaving me to wallow in my anguish all by myself.  I stood there looking around for a few minutes.  Finally, I began to move my cement pillar legs and walk towards my car.  I turned and took one more look at my former fortress playground and bid it a final good-bye.  I climbed into my car and started the long, arduous trek home.

me and my grandmother in her dining room


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