Author's Note: This story is based on the song The House That Built Me by Miranda Lambert. The credit of the entire storyline (minus the ending) and some of the sentences goes to Miranda Lambert. :D Make sure to check the song out! And I do know that this story doesn't go with the prompt.
My hands shook as I stepped off of the bus. I nodded to the driver, and he waved before flying down the road. A cloud of dust blew up from the tires. I swatted it away from me, remembering my twelve-year-old self doing the same thing when I watched Daddy drive away to work.
With a deep breath, I made my way to the house. The siding was still painted white, but it was chipped and worn. New bushes and flowers sat in front. The long porch caused a memory to hit me like a wave. Momma sat in the rocking chair with me in her arms, singing softly. It was my favorite song at the time.
My eyes became watery. I wiped the tears away, pushing the thought to the back of my mind. One foot in front of the other, I walked until I stopped at the porch steps. As clear as day, my hand imprints were there on the second step. I shook my head and trudged up to the front door. I opened the screen portion, then knocked on the old wood door with stained glass.
I stood in front of the door for a moment, about to walk away when it opened. A middle-aged woman with shocking raven hair was standing there, drying her hands off on a dishtowel.
“Hi. Can I help you?” the woman asked me.
Here goes nothing, I thought.
“Ma’am, I know you don’t know me from Adam, but these handprints on the front steps are mine,” I replied hesitantly. “My name is Miranda Lambert. … this place is my childhood home. Here--this is a picture of me when I was young on the day that I first moved in with my family.” I chuckled, nervous, pulling out the picture of my past self with my younger brother. The woman took it from me, and a look of realization came across her face.
“Is your mom Bev Lambert, hon?”
I hadn’t heard my momma’s name in so long that I was a bit taken aback. But, of course, anyone who lived in this town knew my momma.
“Yes, ma’am. She passed away a few years ago.” At this point, I was tired of the niceties and ready to go inside. “If I could just come in, I swear I’ll leave. Won’t take nothin’ but a memory from the house that built me.” The woman stared at me, then the picture, then back to me. My blurt had clearly surprised her. To be honest, it surprised me, too.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Of course. Come on in. My name is Leeanna Boyer,” Leeanna stated. She opened the door wider, allowing me to walk in. I shuffled through the hallway, to the stairs that were next to that little back bedroom. Those were the places where I did my homework and I learned to play guitar.
“I bet you didn’t know: under that live oak, my favorite dog is buried in the yard.” I pointed through the window to a ginormous oak tree. Bunches of daisies grew beneath the tree’s branches.
“Oh. I’m so sorry. What was its name? My family would be happy to put something up to honor the pup,” Leeanna said cautiously. My chin began to quiver, but I stopped it before the tears came.
“No, that’s okay. Her name was Daisy. That’s why we planted daisies over her resting place.” I smiled sadly while making my way up the stairs. Where there had been pale pink carpet was replaced with a white-washed hardwood. Momma loved that carpet. Daddy thought it was ugly, but he let her keep it. I’d always thought it was terrible, but looking at the house without it made me realize how homey it made the place feel.
With Leeanna following close behind, I roamed to my old bedroom. When I lived in that room, it was covered in everything that had to do with Nashville. Singers, guitars, music notes… Now it was just a storage space.
“Momma cut out pictures of houses for years from Better Homes and garden magazines. Daddy thought she was crazy for wanting a big house. But he loved her with all his heart and he gave life to Momma’s dream,” I mentioned suddenly. With a sigh, I sat down in the center of the room. For the first time in a while, I let a river of teardrops flow down my cheeks. They were silent, but tears nonetheless. I reached out and ran my hand down the now-blue wall.
The unfamiliar hardwood disappeared as I imagined I was sitting in my room again. The soft carpet, Daddy strumming a song on his guitar, Momma yelling at my little brother for getting into the pie, the wind blowing in from the open window, and the smell of barbeque wafting up from the grill outside all hit me.
I don’t know how long I stayed in this dream world before I realized that I was bawling into Leeanna’s shoulder, who was now kneeling on the floor beside me. With that, the water poured down harder. Leeanna was acting like Momma.
“It’s okay, Miranda. You’re home,” Leeanna whispered. I nodded. Maybe that was the source of my outburst. Maybe it was the memories.
For many minutes, the two of us sat there. Leeanna wrapped her arms around me. I could feel respect for her growing inside of me despite the circumstances.
“Thank you,” I said, barely above a whisper, when my tears began to fade away.
“You’re welcome.” She took a deep breath. “I did the same thing as you a couple of years ago.” I pulled away from her, wiping the salty drops of water off of my face.
“What? Crying on a person-I-just-met’s shoulder?” I questioned, only half-joking.
“No. Going home. I knocked on the door, and then I ran away. I’ve always regretted that day. I am so glad you didn’t make the same mistake as I did.” She paused as if remembering the day. “Now, you can leave and forget this ever happened, or you could have dinner with me.” Leeanna gave me a small grin.
“That sounds great,” I replied. I returned Leeanna’s smile as she pulled me up from the floor. I followed her through the oh-so-familiar hallways, ending up in the kitchen. An older woman, a man about my age, and a teen girl all stood around a peninsula. I inched my way forward.
“Miranda, this is Hailey, Joe, and…” Leeanna stopped before saying the older woman’s name, glancing at me. I could immediately sense something was wrong. There was something in the air that didn't sit well with me.
“This is Bev.”
“Hi,” the three greeted in unison. Their voices sounded robotic. As I pondered this odd notion, I noticed it.
Joe had been my high-school best friend.
I had babysat Hailey when she was little.
Bev… Bev was my momma. But my momma was gone. Right?
“Your momma never died,” Leeanna whispered in my ear. “I took her. And the rest of the people you love will be here soon and don’t even think about trying to leave me. Whether you’ll believe it or not, I’m your only family now.”
With those words ringing in my ears, my world went black.