By Hannah Phinney
They took the house away from us. I was an inkling there. I dragged my doo on the floor there. I sprouted opinions there, grew awkward and greasy-faced there, went back there after mutating into a psych-majoring, bourbon-swilling, semi-autonomous being. My dad’s two hands and my mom’s two hands built up that house – hands and minds soaked in youth, rigged with hope. Minds scalloped even, perhaps, with bits of love. Soon after the beginning: an unvarying downward trajectory. As if characters and plot all plucked from those austere, canonical novels we had to read in high school English. Dad forking hay bales of bad decisions onto the field of his life. Trying, once or twice, to talk money, to muddle the mirage. Mom a child with ears finger-plugged, a child self-sequestered in her room, skipping dinner.
So they took the house away from us. They came and they said, This house doesn’t belong to you anymore. Yes, you built it. You raised three kids in it, you had your dogs and your horses and your land and your happy times, but that doesn’t matter now. Shitty things happen, we’re sorry. But you’re adults and we’re adults. We have our jobs to do. Here’s your thirty days.
And they began to take the house away. Its adobe walls began to belong to others. Walls bleeding desert colors and marital antipathy. Hemorrhaging malamute death – mom’s crazy bedroom scrawls (“They are near…who they love…”). My childhood memories draining (eviction notices like leeches and walls like sick skin). Its terra-cotta floor tiles, dented and sunk by decades of ripened discord, turning anonymous. Its succulent-bedecked patio, its front yard cacti, its sprawling acreage…being absorbed by the faceless and nameless.
They took it away. But first we had to pack up all our stuff. Boxes of very old vitamins, shop tools, unopened DVDs. Conglomerates of ancient computers and Christmas junk. Grandma’s silverware. Humidifiers. House plants. Five closets’ worth of clothing. Ten rooms’ worth of furniture. One-gazillion framed photos. We dumped it in storage, we carried it with us. The house stayed there.
I look out now from between the bars of my irrevocable adulthood. I have no choice but to be strong and in control – no choice but to distain those mistakes. But there are nightmares that persist, that curl me into fetal shapes. The house haunts my dreams. The house, and how they took it from us.
Hannah Phinney recently received her M.A. in linguistics from San Francisco State University. She is currently slinging booze and writing flash fiction while deciding whether to spend another decade in school. Her semi-surrealistic/sci-fi/“disturbia” prose and poetry can be found at: http://kingzoko.wordpress.com/.