I did it! I’m a novelist, bitches!*
She set the last suitcase down by the door, and did one last walk through this house she had grown up in. The small post-war bungalow looked so much larger now that it was empty. It had seemed to expand once she replaced her parent’s heavy pieces with spare modern pieces; now it had grown again without anything for reference.
Her footsteps rang hollowly on the bare hardwood floors and echoed in the harsh space left behind now that the chesterfield, curtains and carpets had been removed. The light streamed in through the uncovered windows, illuminating the dust motes that swirled in her wake.
She caught herself thinking how Hayden would love this empty space with its unfiltered light and stark angles. He could see potential in any blank canvas.
She sighed. When would she stop thinking about him? She hoped it would be sooner rather than later, but suspected he had become a permanent resident in her mind.
She trailer her fingers along the edge of the fireplace, remembering the stockings that had hung there ever since she was a child; three for Mother, Father and her, and then two and then finally just one. Even when it was just her at Christmas she had still hung the stocking on the middle nail and secretly hoped that someone would mysteriously fill it with small treasures.
She moved out of the living room, and was walking through the dining room when she noticed what looked like cracks in the plaster at the bottom of the wall that had had the enormous sideboard pushed up against it for as long as she could remember. She had no idea how the moving men had got it outside. She had wanted to get rid of it when she sold all her father’s furniture but it had proved to be too heavy. One day she had even gotten to the point of getting a crowbar and a hammer from the shed in a furious desire to remove it from her sight, but in the end she just couldn’t do it. It had been her father’s mother’s and she found herself unable to scar this physical manifestation of her history. She had stared at it for hours wondering how to make it work and in the end had made do with painting it a glossy white enamel.
But now it was gone, leaving an unpainted void in the wall where it used to stand. Jane went to look at the cracks, wondering if this was something she needed to tell the new owners about. As she bent down, she could see that it wasn’t cracks that ran along the plaster above the baseboard, but several wavering lines of tiny handwriting, too fine to read. She frowned at it for a bit, then went back to the front door to get her reading glasses out of her bag and came back to sit on the floor in front of the wall.
She lay on her stomach on the floor, chin in her hands, close to the wall, and the writing came into focus.
Jane, the writing began, you will read this when you are ready to journey. Remember me and the lessons I taught you. Or not. Although it`s probably better if you do. Remember them I mean. Eventually. I doubt you even remember my name right now; adults are so dim. So here it is. My name I mean. Take care of yourself, and I hope to see you again some day. Love, Roy
She read the lines again, hoping that this time they would make sense. They didn’t. Who was Roy? And how did he write behind the sideboard that was too heavy to be moved? She read it a third time. How did Roy-whoever-he-was know she was going to be travelling? And why he sound a bit like a teenage girl?
She sighed and mentally shrugged putting the questions in the increasingly fat file folder in her head entitled “weird things I might will think about later”. Before she stood up, she pulled her phone out of her back pocket and took a picture of the writing on the wall. Just in case, she thought.
She brushed herself off and went to the kitchen to wash her hands. The movements were so automatic, reaching for the soap to the left of the sink and then the hand towel hanging on the oven handle. They weren’t there in the places they had been the last 28 years. It was jarring, a reminder that everything had changed now, and the habits of a lifetime were about to be replaced. She stood in the middle of the kitchen, hands dripping, turning around her now former kitchen, trying to think if she had left behind even a half roll of paper towels. No, she had packed it all, she knew it. She grimaced as she dried her hands on the back of her pants and opened the back door. She walked through her garden, and started pulling weeds from among the beans and tomatoes out of habit. She pinched off a bit of dill and holding it under her nose imagined the dill pickles she’d be able to make come fall. She looked at her garden and began to calculate how many Ball jars she was going to need for her canning this year and trying to recall how many she had in the basement.
Oh, she said with a small voice, remembering what the empty house meant. I won’t be here.
*I mean novelist in only the most general of terms. At best, my output over the last 30 days can be called a shitty first vomit draft. Now on to significantly less fun task of editing. Yippee skippee.