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You put off getting ready until it’s almost noon, it would be a six-hour drive and you needed to get going before noon if you wanted to get there on time… But of course, the subject of the sentence was still IF after all these years. After loading the trunk with all the things one could possibly need for a family reunion – gloves, gifts, solar powered batteries for both phone and laptop, laptop, fire extinguisher, ACTUAL food; not sure the pizza delivery guy can make a delivery all way out here and no normal person should ever rely on your mother’s English stew and Turkish calamari and sauce to stay alive for a whole weekend, sunglasses, earplugs, headphones, boxing gloves, and finally a part of your renowned sweet stash; Mother would never approve you buying anything with a sugar level above 24. You hop in the car and think of over eighty reasons why you’d rather be in bed catching up with this seasons’ basketball games or reading Jane Austin, why you’d rather be anywhere or go anywhere else in the world but where you’re headed right now; but in end decide to go because if you don’t they might come here and never leave – and you promised yourself several times that you’d never in a million years let that happen ever again. You turn on the car, set it to reverse, leave your garage already missing the comfort of your home, set it to drive and set off for the second longest journey you would ever take knowing that you would definitely return a different person.

Twenty-seven preparatory hymns and six hours later you see the house with the blackest smoke rising from the chimney – the only house with any smoke rising out of the chimney anyway; everyone one else in the neighborhood probably use electric stoves and cookers by now, but Mother never did trust those ‘new-fangled electronicals’ as she calls them. You check the time. Perfect. As intended, you’ve arrived fashionably late. You park on the front lawn, knowing fully well that the reunion would be held at the backyard. Already entranced by the old Victorian age design of the house that seems to hold a million memories within, you tentatively and carefully remove your left foot from your very safe car and place it on your family’s very unsafe front lawn and expect something dangerous to suddenly jump out of an unseen hiding spot and reach out to you – your Uncle Jerome once hid a live panther in the backyard and sent you there to get a hose as a prank on Christmas; you almost had a heart attack when it jumped out at you but the whole family had a great big laugh. Though it turned out it was actually on a leash and couldn’t get to you, you still couldn’t go to the backyard at all for almost a year.

You look back at the house again, in contrast with every other house on the street it stands out; You have to give them credit – they always stood out. They made it their business to, they’re not your average family. You begin to think about all the times your family was the talk of the town, all the times and in all the different ways your family has proved to you that you could never be a normal person with this family; not a normal four year old writing lists to some made up ‘Santa Clause’ asking for new stuff on Christmas because you’re scared they might lock you up in the attic again if you do; not a normal kid at six when instead of trick or treating on Halloween you were forced to sit at home and watch horrible movies that no six year old – or anyone at that – should ever watch, just to get out of giving away free candy to kids because five cents a pop for the fifteen kids in our neighborhood was too much to spend every year; not a normal teen saving up buy some insignificant trinket because it makes so much more sense to be saving enough money to get your dad out of jail again – He basically lived there – since he would never let anyone touch the money on the top shelf in the main closet, though you all knew he had stacks of money there you still lived in poverty; not a normal teen in senior year getting ready for prom, you were too busy working both day AND night shifts to earn enough money to get your mother in a suitable hospital before she’s due to give birth – she lost the baby anyway – because your father didn’t seem to care.

You’re already tired and this is the last thing you wanted – to remember – memories hurt. You are still debating whether it would be better to just leave now while it’s still possible and call the police if any family member shows up at your door when you get a text from your best and ONLY friend, Simba. You open it and it reads;

‘Hey, I’m texting right now because you should have gotten home by now and you’re probably just standing on the front lawn like the weirdo you are –  just kidding – anyway if you haven’t gotten there yet kick your butt into high gear before I come and kick it myself. But if you are there; good luck, I know you can do this cuz I’m your best friend and I know you never give up. I’ve never seen you fail even though I’ve known you all your life. You can do this.

~Love Simba’

She’s right – You can do this! You take your second foot carefully out of your car and place it on the front lawn next to the other one and get mentally and emotionally ready to get in; then you take a couple of sweets, pop one in your mouth and the other in your pocket, lock your car and head to the backyard.

You’re ready.

June 23, 2020 20:15

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2 comments

23:59 Jul 19, 2020

This story is fantastic! I loved how you conveyed the message about how the narrator felt about their mother and family in general! The panther in the backyard thing was MESSED UP 😂 but I loved reading it! Well done!

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16:53 Jul 24, 2020

Thank you so much!! I actually got the panther in backyard idea from a book I read when I was like twelve(I don't remember which) that scared me out of going to my backyard for over a month LOL

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